Fresh produce in the form of fruits and vegetables form an important part of a healthy diet. There are multiple studies and abundant research evidence to prove that eating fruits and vegetables everyday can cut risk of several chronic diseases as well as risk of mortality and make you healthier. From helping regulate weight to maintaining optimum levels of blood pressure and blood sugar, fruits and vegetables have numerous benefits for the human body. Due to the plant compounds present in fruits and vegetables, consuming them regularly can keep inflammation at bay. One of the best ways of making sure you eat your fruits and vegetables is to make a meal out of them.
Indians are lucky to have dishes that automatically add ample amounts of vegetables to their meals. But if you are looking to cut carbohydrates from your diet, then salad bowls make for excellent facilitators. They give you a whole range of nutrients while cutting calories from your diet. There is some debate as to exactly how much fruit and vegetable serving one must consume every day. A 2017 study published in The Lancet said that eating three to four combined servings of fruits and vegetables a day could cut risk of death by 22 per cent. If you are in-fact planning to make a meal out of your salads, you should ideally add sources of lean protein to it as well.
Here are some good sources of protein (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) that you may add to your salad meals:
Going by 2,000 calorie diet, men and women need around 56 and 46 grams of protein per day in their meals and poultry is a good way of meeting this dietary requirement. A 100-gram portion of cooked chicken contains approximately 25 grams of protein (as per United States Department of Agriculture). Boiled or grilled chicken pieces go really well with salad greens. Here's a recipe of chicken salad that you can try.
Turkey is another poultry meat that is one of the healthiest options for non-vegetarians looking to load up on protein. A 100 gram portion of turkey meat delivers a whopping 29 grams of protein (as per USDA data). Diced cooked turkey meat can be mixed with red onions, low-calorie mayonnaise, lemon juice and a range of herbs of your choice to make a delicious protein-rich salad.
3. Egg Whites
Cooked egg whites are an excellent addition to salads. Chicken eggs are one of the cheapest, most widely consumed dietary sources of lean protein. They taste delicious and add a nice and different texture to a bowl of greens. You can simply toss egg whites in dressing of your choice or place a whole poached egg as topping for your salad. One whole boiled egg contains as little as 6 grams of protein, so a better way of using egg in salad is to use good amount of whites, possibly with other forms of non-vegetarian lean protein.
Nuts also go extremely well with salads, be it the warm or the cold kind. Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, cashew nuts are all great additions to salad meals, as these add a nice crunch, a delicious flavour and of course nutrition to the meals. It's better to throw in a mix of your favourite nuts instead of just sticking to one, provided that the recipe allows for it. However, it is again advised to throw in some other form of lean protein along with the nuts, to make your meal sufficiently rich in protein.
5. Dairy products
Some of the best vegetarian sources of protein come in the form of dairy products, the best among which is cheese. However, cheese also contains good amounts of fats and hence it is advised to have it in moderation. Cottage cheese or paneer is relatively low in fat, a 100 gram portion contains 11 grams of protein (as per USDA data). Yogurt is another relatively good source of vegetarian protein and can be used in the dressing to lend a creamy taste. Here's an example of a low-fat paneer salad recipe that you may try.
6. Chickpeas and Lentils
Chickpeas and lentils are two other vegetarian sources of dietary protein that you may add to your salad bowls, although these may again have to be used in combination with other protein-rich foods. Chickpeas are better than lentils as they are more abundant sources of protein (a 100 gram delivers 19 grams of protein, as per USDA data) and go well with greens. Here's an example of a chickpea salad recipe you may try.
Your daily protein requirement may vary depending upon your daily calorie-intake and your levels of physical activity. It is advisable to consult a dietitian or a nutritionist to better understand your individual protein requirements.
(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)