5 Reasons to Eat More Salads (With Recipes!)
Time and time again, it has been proven that diet is the cornerstone to improving your health and feeling your best at any age. But as we get older, prioritizing nutrition becomes even more critical to help manage chronic conditions, maintain healthy digestion, keep blood sugar spikes at bay, and so much more.
Making positive changes to improve our health can be overwhelming, and many people don’t know where to start. But the key to making new, healthier habits stick is making them easy, convenient, and practical. When it comes to dieting, it doesn’t get easier than throwing a few raw veggies together for a delicious, nutrient-rich salad. But don’t take our word for it: Consider these five evidence-based reasons to eat more salad to feel better, look better, sleep better, and have more stable energy levels.
5 Reasons Seniors Should Eat More Salads
- Having a side salad ahead of a meal can prevent blood sugar spikes, improve digestion, and reduce bloating. Consuming raw vegetables high in water content ahead of a denser meal can help lubricate your digestive tract, making it easier for the food that follows to move easier through the body. So even having a salad before a bigger meal can yield positive results. Bonus Tip: Taking a 10-15 minute walk after a meal can also improve digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Salads are rich in fiber. Playing an important role in digestion and heart health, fiber is especially important for older adults. If you’re tired of the taste of Metamucil, consider adding salads as side dishes that you enjoy before a meal or have a salad as your meal. With many Americans not getting enough fiber, it becomes even more important for seniors to consume it since our metabolism naturally slows and our muscle mass diminishes as we get older.
- Salads can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can put you at risk for serious health issues, including cancer. Eating salads makes weight management a cinch, making it easy for you to get an adequate intake of protein and healthy vegetables without over consuming calories that can lead to weight gain.
- Salads can improve heart health. Dark, leafy greens are high in many valuable nutrients, especially folate, which is bursting with heart-healthy benefits. In fact, for decades, studies have shown that adults who consumed more folate had fewer strokes and heart attacks than those who reported consuming less. Conversely, folate deficiency has been linked to cognitive impairment of the aging brain.
- Salad is a perfect base for adding in healthy fats. Healthy fats are important for seniors and help reduce the “bad” cholesterol, which can clog your arteries and put you at risk for a stroke or heart attack. A salad is perfect for adding delicious, antioxidant-rich avocado or some mineral-rich cashews and will even help keep you fuller for longer, preventing cravings for processed foods later.
Why Fiber is Important for Older Adults
The star ingredient in salads is greens of all kinds. Whether using spring mix, kale, spinach, or even all three to make the perfect salad, all leafy greens have a high fiber content that is especially beneficial for older adults.
According to the CDC, 95% of adults do not have adequate fiber in their diets. Fiber plays a pivotal role in facilitating healthy digestion, feeling full, and preventing constipation. But that’s not all: fiber has even been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. It can even reduce inflammation in the body which is the root of many diseases!
Suppose you struggle to achieve your daily fiber intake or have inconsistent bowel movements. In that case, a plant-based diet can be a great place to start since many of the foods permitted on a plant-based diet are high in fiber, like beans, leafy greens, chickpeas, and almonds. And wouldn’t you know it, these all make perfect additions to salad!
There are many more reasons to add salads to your daily list of meals or snacks—like their high water content, which can help with hydration and promote more radiant skin, their ability to help keep you cool in the summer months, and achieving your daily vegetable goal more easily. And if you aren’t used to making salads, not to worry: here are a few simple, practical recipes to help start you off on the right foot.
Simple Salad Recipes That Are Easy and Delicious
Incorporating salads into your diet can have a profound impact on your health, especially as you age. With their high fiber content, ability to prevent blood sugar spikes, and potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, salads are an easy and practical way to improve your overall health. Not only are salads easy to make, but they are also versatile and can be tailored to suit your preferences. By making simple changes to your diet, such as adding a side salad before a meal, you can start to see and feel the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. Try the recipes above to get started on your journey to better health.