When it comes to eating clean, most people consider a salad to be among the healthiest options for a meal. For National Salad Month, let’s take a moment to recognize that not all salads are created equal. In fact, many restaurant and fast food salads are misleadingly healthful, drenched in caloric dressings and completely void of key nutrients. Take Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad for example. Marketed as a “fresh-made salad” this seemingly healthful option packs 720 calories and nearly a day’s worth of sodium.
When you eat clean, you will notice a difference in the way you look and feel, especially your skin. Amy Lane, aesthetician at Monarch Skin Rejuvenation Center, said, “You truly are what you eat. Your skin is your largest organ, so it’s important to take excellent care of it by eating a healthful diet. Poor food choices can cause inflammation and can lead to numerous other skin issues.”
The best way to guarantee a healthful salad is to prepare it yourself. So, next time you make your own salad, here’s what to include for healthy, glowing skin.
Start with leafy greens
For the most healthful salad foundation, begin with darker greens such as spinach, arugula and romaine. Spinach is an all-around superfood, loaded with necessary vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K, as well as vital minerals. This leafy green is also loaded with tons of antioxidants that eliminate free radicals in your body which can cause premature aging. Arugula is a great source of vitamin K, which helps to regulate calcium and metabolism -- both are key to healthy skin. Without proper vitamin K in your diet, calcium can harden the elastin fibers that help keep your skin soft and subtle. In the long term, this can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkles.
Add some veggies
Now that you have a base, it’s time to add some flavor. Luckily, many of the tastiest vegetables are also among the healthiest. Avocados are one of the best additions to your salad, as they are jam-packed with antioxidants, biotin and healthy poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids, which protect your skin by keeping it hydrated. Tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli and green pepper are all rich in vitamins and nutrients that will boost collagen production and provide protection from free radicals.
Dress it up
You can make a salad chock-full of nutrient-rich ingredients, but if you drown it in the wrong salad dressing, you won’t reap all the benefits. Lane said, “Some salad dressings contain sugar and unhealthy fats that can cause inflammation in the skin and increase sodium intake. As an alternative, you should look for an olive oil-based dressing.” It’s best to avoid creamy dressings as they are high in saturated fat, and always remember the “drizzle not drench” rule. A great way to not overindulge on salad dressing is to pre-measure a 2-tablespoon serving of salad dressing into a small bowl. If you’re dining out, ask for the dressing on the side so you can be conscious of how much goes on the salad.