For some people, eating salad is an experience best left for dieters and vegetarians. But salads have come a long way from your typical diner mix of iceberg lettuce, cucumber slices, onions, and a sad slice of tomato—topped, of course, with a trans-fat-filled dollop of “house dressing“.
Salads now come in a huge variety of textures and flavors. Anything goes, from beans to seeds, or even warm ingredients. The best salads, however, are the ones that not only look and taste great but also include a wide variety of functional foods.
With practically everything linked to cancer and other diseases of one sort or another, eating properly is no longer an option—it’s a requirement for staying healthy. Here’s a great recipe for a powerhouse salad for anyone who’s on the go.
Anti Cancer Salad With Spinach and Avocado
Here are the star ingredients of this recipe and how they work to improve your health!
Apart from having essentially next to no calories (7 calories in 1 cup uncooked and 41 calories in 1 cup cooked spinach), this superfood is jam-packed with essential nutrients, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. It’s obviously low in fat and cholesterol, but it is also rich in niacin and zinc. And although you may not automatically associate spinach with protein, it has a fair amount, as well as a decent amount of fiber.
In fact, spinach ranks as one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. It is an excellent source of folate and vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as thiamin, vitamin B-6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese (cooked spinach actually provides higher amounts of vitamin A and iron than raw spinach) (2).
In fact, there are more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents.
One 2008 study published in Lipids, shows the nutrients in spinach counter DNA destruction and inhibit cancer cell and tumor growth (3). Another 2007 study shows the flavonoid kaempferol in spinach (and also some cabbages), lowers the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 40 percent (4). Other studies show eating spinach lowers the risk of prostate cancer and even reduces the risk of breast cancer by 44 percent (5).
Of special interest is a 2004 study published in Nutrition Journal, which concludes the carotenoids in spinach (and other leafy greens) offer “…at least a 60–70 percent decrease in breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers, and even a 40–50 percent decrease in lung cancer, along with similar reductions in cancers at other sites.” (6)
And fighting cancer is not the only benefit this mighty vegetable offers. The same flavonoids in spinach that help prevent cancer are potent antioxidants that slow the effects of aging, especially on your brain. Animal studies also show these antioxidants can even significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills (7).
A large cohort study, The Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), shows that eating 2.8 servings of green leafy, yellow, and cruciferous vegetables every day can slow cognitive decline by as much as 40 percent (8).
Spinach is also high in lutein, a carotenoid that is key in fighting eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts (9). Plus, this superfood helps to regulate blood glucose levels in diabetics, lower blood pressure, improve bone health, and lower the risk of developing asthma among other things (10).