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The right ingredients can turn a ho-hum tossed salad into the ultimate healthy meal. Eat this to live long and lean.
Fresh & Seasonal
A multivitamin is a terrific insurance policy, but did you ever eat an insurance policy? Not very tasty or satisfying. Even with a good balsamic vinaigrette. But this—The Rodale Superfood Salad—this is another story. This salad tastes amazing, and it’s loaded with the most nutritious organic produce possible, plus healthy fats and protein for long-lasting energy. In fact, it’s a crime to even call it a salad. It’s a meal, a nutrient-dense smorgasbord that will leave you feeling satisfied but not bloated (heading to the beach anytime soon?).
Another bonus: Nearly all the ingredients are in season now at your local farmer’s market, or soon will be, which means they’re even better for you. Produce that’s eaten closer to the time it’s picked has higher nutrient levels than the bland stuff shipped from far, far away.
One cup of spinach gives you 58 micrograms (mcg) of folate. According to a study in the journal Stroke, consuming at least 300 mcg of folate a day reduces your risk of having a stroke by 20 percent and decreases your risk of developing heart disease by 13 percent. Other studies have found that folate helps protect against both Alzheimer’s and cancer.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, and potassium
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, and depression
MAKE IT EVEN BETTER: Instead of spinach, use kale or collards. Both earn top scores—1,000 points each—on the ANDI (for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) rating system that scores foods based on their nutritional firepower. Spinach scores 739, romaine just 389.
Red Leaf Lettuce
Four leaves of red-leaf lettuce contain 1,213 mcg of antioxidants, 96 mcg of vitamin K (which has been shown to maintain bone mass), and 1,172 mcg of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. The National Institutes of Health found that lutein and zeaxanthin can decrease your risk of developing macular degeneration by 43 percent.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, and potassium
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, and weight gain
You get 294 milligrams (mg) of potassium in just three spears. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, potassium counteracts the effects of sodium by dilating blood vessels and increasing the amount of sodium excreted in the urine, thus lowering blood pressure and protecting against stroke.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: calcium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and lutein and zeaxanthin
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: heart disease, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and weight gain
MAKE IT EVEN BETTER: Add broccoli sprouts instead of florets. The sprouts contain up to 50 times the amount of cancer-fighting compounds found in mature broccoli heads.
Red Kidney Beans
A quarter cup of red kidney beans gives you 6,630 disease-fighting antioxidants, plus a full 3 grams of fiber. According to the American Dietetic Association, dietary fiber lowers blood cholesterol levels and helps normalize blood glucose and insulin levels, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: protein and folate
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s
Yellow Bell Peppers
Four strips of yellow bell pepper provide 48 mg of free-radical–fighting vitamin C (free radicals are rogue molecules that can damage cells and lead to cancer). According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, levels of C-reactive protein—a blood marker for inflammation linked to heart disease—can be decreased by 24 percent if you consume 500 mg of vitamin C a day. Plus, nutrition researchers from Arizona State University have reported that vitamin C can help with weight loss by assisting in fat oxidation, or the body’s ability to burn fat.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, weight gain, and hypertension
Four cubes of Swiss cheese provide 476 mg of calcium and 26 IU of vitamin D. In a 20-year study, British researchers determined that men who consume more than 67 IU of vitamin D and 190 mg of calcium a day have half the risk of stroke of men who consume less. Vitamin D has also been associated with a decrease in the risk of pancreatic, prostate, and testicular cancers. A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men with higher blood levels of vitamin D had a 17 percent reduction in total cancer incidence and a 29 percent reduction in total cancer deaths.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: protein and vitamin B12
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and stroke
MAKE IT EVEN BETTA: For a change, use feta. Feta cheese scores 21 on the ANDI scale, beating Swiss’s 15.
Carrots are one of the richest sources of pro–vitamin A carotenoids, plant compounds that provide color and function as antioxidants. Just a quarter cup of shredded carrots provides 2,279 mcg of beta-carotene and 4,623 IU of vitamin A. According to a study in the journal Thorax, beta-carotene can slow the age-related decline of lung power. Vitamin A has also been shown to improve vision, bone growth, and cell division; help regulate the immune system; and decrease the risk of lung cancer.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: cancer, osteoporosis, weight gain, and hypertension
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil And Balsamic Vinegar
One tablespoon of olive oil delivers 10 grams of monounsaturated fat. Research shows that men who eat diets high in monounsaturated fat have higher testosterone levels than those who don’t. Antioxidant-rich balsamic vinegar can improve vascular function when ingested with a high-fat food like olive oil, which contributes to a reduction in the risk of heart disease.
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: Adding olive oil to red, green, orange, or yellow fruits and vegetables increases the amount of heart-saving, cancer-fighting, vision-boosting, immune-repairing, bone-strengthening vitamins such as A, E, and K, as well as carotenoids.
One tablespoon of sunflower seeds provides 8.35 mcg of selenium. Harvard researchers discovered that men with high levels of selenium have a 49 percent lower incidence of advanced prostate cancer than those with the lowest levels. One tablespoon of flaxseeds will give you 2.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to a reduction in risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression. Omega-3s have also been shown to inhibit cancer-cell growth.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: vitamin E and fiber
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, and diabetes
One tablespoon of almonds provides 2.2 grams of alpha-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s, according to a National Institute on Aging study. Another study showed that people who were clinically depressed had lower levels of alpha-tocopherol than their happier peers. Vitamin E also fights free-radical damage.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: monounsaturated fat, protein, and fiber
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: Alzheimer’s, depression, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
Four cherry tomatoes will give you 1,748 mcg of lycopene. A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that increasing dietary lycopene intake to 30 mg reduces oxidative DNA damage to prostate tissues and decreases PSA levels.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and hypertension
One of the best sources of protein, tuna contains no trans fat, and a three-ounce serving of chunk light contains 11 mg of heart-healthy niacin, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol and help your body process fat. University of Rochester researchers determined that niacin raises HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and lowers triglycerides more than most statin drugs alone. Since tuna is so fraught with mercury problems, we recommend Wild Planet, Vital Choice, and American Tuna brands, all of which sell young tuna caught off the West Coast that have lower mercury levels than other types of tuna.
OTHER NUTRIENTS: protein, selenium, and vitamin B12
DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER: heart disease and diabetes
The Grand Total
The Rodale Superfood Salad nutritional info:
Protein: 41 grams
Carbohydrates: 35 grams
Fat: 37 grams (6 grams saturated)
Fiber: 14 grams
Trans fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 178 milligrams