If you want to eat healthily or even lose weight, you often eat salad. Just what comes in? Despite your own taste and preferences as well as intolerances, there are a few things you should pay attention to. So that the greens on the plate are really healthy. But how is the body optimally supplied with nutrients? A few tricks will help.
It is difficult to say which lettuce is best from a health point of view. Because all varieties offer advantages. Variety is therefore important, as the nutritionist and author of the book "Salat der Superlative" Anne Fleck says. "And you should add elements rich in bitter substances such as chicory, radicchio, rocket or dandelion to the puzzle." Because the bitter substances not only stimulate digestion, but also strengthen the detoxification power of the liver.
Daniela Krehl, expert adviser at the Bavarian consumer center, recommends eating according to the season: in winter, lamb's lettuce and chicory are on the menu, in summer, for example, peppers and tomatoes. And of course the rule applies: the more colorful, the better. “Because every natural dye provides specific vitamins and minerals,” says Krehl. For example, green means a lot of folate, which is important for cell division, among other things.
"Store-bought dressings often contain a lot of sugar or sweetener and fat," says Krehl. The creamy sauces in particular provide a lot of calories. 500 calories could come together for 100 milliliters. And it is not uncommon for some people to put 75 milliliters or more of salad dressing on their lunch. Therefore, the list of ingredients and the nutritional values should be checked when buying, according to the expert. "An alternative would be to stretch these sauces." However, they are impractical anyway because they don't keep for long after opening.
The alternative: do it yourself. "You only need salt, pepper, a high-quality oil, a good vinegar and a dab of mustard or honey," says Krehl. It's quick to mix and can be taken to the office in a bottle.
"As a universal oil, I recommend olive oil with the addition 'extra virgin'," says nutritionist and internist Fleck. "Extra Virgin" means that the oil has been cold-pressed directly from the olives. "It has proven to be particularly valuable in terms of health." But lemon-flavored olive oil or lemon-flavored algae oil can also enhance the salad - not just in terms of taste. The latter is particularly valuable if it contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Rapeseed oil, on the other hand, offers fewer good omega-3 fats in comparison.
Vinegar or Lemon? The nutritionist leaves this question open. "You can even whip up a great salad by combining multiple vinegars or oils," says Fleck. "It just shouldn't be too much vinegar."
But there are a few things that speak in favor of the lemon: Not only does it have a strong alkaline effect on the body, it is also rich in vitamin C. Fleck recommends organic lemons, which contain more vitamin C than bottled lemon juice. Maple syrup, thick juices and honey taste good, but sugar should be used sparingly, regardless of the variant, Fleck continues.
The salad fills you up with ingredients that contain fat and protein. "Fat is in the salad dressing and animal products such as chicken breast, eggs, tuna, shrimp, cottage cheese or feta can serve as protein components," says Krehl from the Bavarian consumer center. Or vegetable protein sources such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, nuts or seeds.
Good to know: Legumes and proteins that have been heated for a long time contain a lot of histamine. Some bodies cannot break down these substances properly. It can lead to irritable bowel syndrome or migraines, which are often not associated with diet. "In general, you should try raw food to see if it is tolerable," says Krehl.
Croutons or bread, on the other hand, should be eaten sparingly with the salad. Because they provide carbohydrates. Krehl explains: "Like the dressing, this quickly turns the salad into a calorie bomb." Whole grains aren't always the solution. "If it's ground too fine, it has the same blood sugar spike as white bread," adds Fleck.
Another tip: If you make your own croutons, you help save food. Old slices of toast or wholemeal bread can simply be steamed in a pan with salt. The crispy bread cubes will keep in the screw-top jar for at least a week.
Because there is so much raw food in the salad, it should also be eaten at lunchtime. In the evening, the quality of sleep may deteriorate because the digestion is under heavy strain, explains Krehl.
Good kitchen hygiene is also important when it comes to salads. That's why salad mixes should be washed again before consumption - as it says on the bag. Bacteria can multiply quickly at the interfaces. "Then it's a germ spinner," says the expert. Krehl recommends buying a whole salad instead. "In addition, I can wrap it in a damp cloth like rocket in the fridge." Then it stays fresh longer.
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