When it comes to a healthy salad, we say ‘the greener the better’! Adding a wide variety of the healthiest salad greens to your diet is the perfect way to hit your daily vitamin and nutrient goals. They're also tasty, fresh and low in calories - what's not to love?
Today, we've rounded up the 7 healthiest salad greens that should make it to your next veggie bowl. By tossing them into your daily meals, you'll enjoy a perfect blend of taste and good health. So, let's get cooking!
1. Kale: Power-Packed With Vitamins
Nutrition Facts (per 21gms cup): Vitamin A: 1598 IU | Vitamin C: 19 mg | Potassium: 79mg | Calories: 7kcal
Kale's popularity has exploded in recent times, with several healthy salad recipes incorporating them in their list of greens. It's easy to see why - this low-calorie superfood is packed with powerful antioxidants that keep you looking and feeling young.
Just one cup of kale is packed with almost 30% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A, which protects organs from damage and maintains the health of our skin and vital organs.
Moreover, it's a fantastic source of Vitamin C (30% of RDA) that helps keep your immune system in top shape and your skin, bones, and teeth healthy.
Best Way To Enjoy Kale: Its hearty, crunchy texture and earthy flavor make for a delicious add-on to most salads. To retain its nutrition, it's a good idea to eat kale in its raw form.
If you find raw kale slightly bitter, lightly sauté (if you can, add the accent over the first e) it with garlic and olive oil over low heat.
2. Watercress: For Healthy Skin & Bones
Nutrition Facts (per 34 gms cup, chopped): Calcium: 41 mg | Vitamin C: 14 mg | Potassium: 112 mg | Calories: 3 kcal
A close relative of mustard, the delicate watercress leaves have a wonderful spicy flavor that awakens your senses. But these aromatic greens are also one of the richest sources of Vitamin C, with one cup fulfilling 20% of your RDA.
Vitamin C is the proverbial foundation of youth, as it keeps our skin's collagen levels high, making for young, supple skin. Watercress is also loaded with Vitamin A and folate, which helps in cell regeneration and protects you from various cancers.
Best Way To Enjoy Watercress: Its leaves are so delicate and aromatic, that the best way to eat them is to simply toss them raw into your salad. This will retain their nutrients and give you a strong, aromatic experience with every bite.
3. Arugula: Treasure Trove of Phytochemicals
Nutrition Facts (per 100 gms): Vitamin K: 11 mcg | Calcium: 30 mg| Vitamin A: 470 IU | Calories: 5 kcal
A cousin of the radish and lettuce, Arugula may not be as famous as the other leafy greens, but it should be! Chock-full of essential nutrients, one cup of Arugula fulfills almost 20% of your daily Vitamin K needs which keeps your bones healthy and strong and plays a crucial role in blood clotting.
Arugula is also a brilliant source of Quercetin and Lutein - two phytochemicals crucial for preventing inflammation, cell damage, and cancer. It also has modest levels of Folate, which reduces fatigue, boosts your immunity, and protects your mental health.
Best way to enjoy Arugula: These thin, crispy leaves have a pleasant, peppery taste. Its unique flavor makes it one of the best salad greens to enhance the taste of your salad, pizza, or quiche.
4. Broccoli Leaves: Fight Ageing With Antioxidants
Nutrition Facts (per 35 gms cup): Vitamin A: 6400 IU | Vitamin C: 37.3 mg | Calories: 11 kcal
While Broccoli florets have been a part of our salads for ages, nutritionists are now beginning to appreciate the immense nutritional power of its leaves!
Broccoli leaves are one of the healthiest greens, a true superfood with a treasure trove of essential nutrients. Broccoli leaves are an excellent source of Vitamin A (128% of daily need), C, E, and K, and antioxidants.
Perhaps most surprising is that the level of nutrients in the leaves is even higher than levels found in the florets.
Together, these vitamins improve vision, fight against sun aging, sun damage, and keep our immune system functioning at its peak.
Best way to enjoy Broccoli leaves: These leaves have an earthy taste that is similar to that of the florets but milder. We recommend you either enjoy them lightly steamed, or stir-fry with some garlic, and season with pepper, chili flakes, and salt.
5. Romaine Lettuce: Protect Your Eyes & Memory
Nutrition facts (per 47 gms shredded cup): Vitamin A: 4090 IU | Vitamin K: 48 mcg | Calories: 8 kcal
If you love the crunch and volume of lettuce in your salad, then we suggest picking Romaine lettuce over Iceberg if you want to up the nutrition quotient. A single cup of shredded Romaine lettuce covers a whopping 80% of your daily Vitamin A and 50% of Vitamin K needs!
It's also a great source of Iron and Folate which together protects your heart, immunity, and boosts energy levels. Like Arugula, it's also rich in phytochemicals like Lutein and Zeaxanthin that prevent cell damage and improve memory function.
Best way to enjoy Romaine Lettuce: The crunchy volume of Romaine lettuce is best enjoyed in a big bowl of Ceasar salad. For a pop of flavor, toss it into a stir fry pan with some butter, chopped garlic, and salt. You'll love the creamy, umami flavor that the butter will lend to the leaves.
6. Pea Shoots: For Healthy Digestion & Skin
Nutrition facts (per 20 gms cup): Vitamin C: 21 mg | Fiber: 2 g | Iron: 1.08 mg | Calories: 30 kcal
Pea shoots are essentially baby pea plants that are harvested very early. A frequently used ingredient in Asian cuisine, its nutritive qualities are now gaining wider recognition. A single cup of these beauties can take care of 1/3rd of your daily Vitamin C requirement.
They're also a good source of fiber and help keep your digestion and gut health in good shape.
Best way to enjoy pea shoots: These tender greens have a crisp texture and a fresh, pea-like flavor. Try stir-frying with garlic and sesame oil to bring out the flavor to the fullest extent.
7. Spinach: Clearer, Supple Skin Awaits
Nutrition Facts (per 30 gms cup): Vitamin K: 145 mcg (161%) | Vitamin A: 2810 IU (93%) | Beta Carotene: 1690 mcg | Calcium: 30 mg | Calories: 6 kcal
Popeye was really onto something - everyone should include Spinach in their diet. This wonder food is low in calories, but rich in fiber, vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. A single serving of Spinach can hit your daily Vitamin K, A, and Beta Carotene goals.
Eating spinach on a regular basis can lower your cholesterol, control your blood pressure, protect your heart, and clear your skin of impurities. Its high fiber content keeps your bowels healthy and digestive system functioning smoothly.
Best way to enjoy spinach: There are several ways to consume spinach, depending on your preference. While you can eat spinach in its raw form, it could be hard to digest for some and cause bloating.
Cooked or steamed spinach is easier to digest and could be more palatable for some as well. Try lightly sauteing or steaming the leaves with butter, garlic, and pepper.
With several delicious recipes to steam, sautee, and prep your greens, enjoying these superfoods can be a daily delight. They not only belong to your healthy salad bowl, but also work great as a side with roasted veggies, lentils, and meat as well.
Remember, gentle is the way to go when prepping these healthy greens - overcooking them may lower the levels of vitamins and nutrients they possess.
Stay raw, stay healthy, stay boho beautiful!