Combining an array of healthy foods in a salad is a great way to boost energy all day!
A fresh, summertime salad is such a refreshing way to make your workday lunch a healthy one–especially when you need to boost energy in the afternoon. Choosing healthy and beneficial ingredients that don’t put you into a food-coma can be another story. Did you know that some salad ingredients are better at supporting your brain than others?
Up your salad game with these five energy-boosting, healthy ingredients and beat the afternoon blahs:
Adding fruit to a traditional veggie salad is not only delicious and refreshing, but it can offer several health benefits, too. Blueberries, a low-calorie, high-fiber fruit is thought to be the food that has the highest antioxidant capacity out of any fruit or vegetable (1). Research has shown that blueberries an encourage healthy brain function and improve memory as a result of the antioxidant properties found in them. When consumed, the antioxidants found in blueberries tend to center around parts of the brain that affect memory and intelligence, as well as boost energy (2).
This potassium powerhouse plays a key role in supporting brain function and mood. Avocados contain a whopping 14% of the recommended daily amount of potassium, making them even more nutrient-dense than bananas. Research shows that ample amounts of potassium play a role in maintaining high brain function, particularly with memory and learning 3). Avocados also contain 7g of fiber per serving, which helps to promote overall gut health and eliminate free radicals (4).
There’s a reason Popeye relied on spinach to gain strength! Spinach contains several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin C, and Iron. Spinach is rich in antioxidants, and helps to eliminate free radicals from the body (5). Studies have shown that spinach is also high in zeaxanthin and lutein, which can help fight skin damage caused by harmful sun rays (6). Studies have shown that spinach is a key player in supporting brain health and can maintain high functioning brain activity throughout the aging process (7).
No doubt that you’ve heard about the benefits of this healthy nut before, but do you know how almonds can help your body maintain and boost energy? Snacking on fiber-rich almonds is a great way to increase satiety between meals (8). Almonds contain natural fats that the body can easily burn. Research shows that almonds can speed up metabolism, ultimately reducing fat gain and making them a great weight-loss food (9). Tossing a handful of sliced almonds on top of a salad not only adds a delicious texture, but it helps to boost energy and keep you full throughout the day.
Need a brain boost to curb the midday blahs? There’s nothing like the smooth taste of a fresh hardboiled egg and adding egg slices to a salad is the prefect summertime salad topper. You already know that eggs are full of protein; Filled with protein, eggs are one of the most fulfilling foods and can reduce high levels of calorie intake (10). One study showed that choline, which eggs contain in especially high amounts, aids in brain and cognitive function (11).
(1) Wolfe, K. L., Kang, X., He, X., Dong, M., Zhang, Q., & Liu, R. H. (2008). Cellular Antioxidant Activity of Common Fruits. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,56(18), 8418-8426. doi:10.1021/jf801381y
(2) Essa, M., Al-Adawi, S., Memon, M., Manivasagam, T., Akbar, M., & Subash, S. (2014). Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural Regeneration Research,9(16), 1557. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.139483
(3) Storm, Johan F. “Chapter 12 Potassium currents in hippocampal pyramidal cells.” Progress in Brain Research Understanding the Brain Through the Hippocampus the Hippocampal Region as a Model for Studying Brain Structure and Function(1990): 161-87. Web.
(4) Macfarlane, S., Macfarlane, G. T., & Cummings, J. H. (2006). Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics,24(5), 701-714. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.03042.x
(5) Sies, H. (2000). What is Oxidative Stress? Developments in Cardiovascular Medicine Oxidative Stress and Vascular Disease,1-8. doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-4649-8_1
(6) Roberts, R. L., Green, J., & Lewis, B. (2009). Lutein and zeaxanthin in eye and skin health. Clinics in Dermatology,27(2), 195-201. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2008.01.011
(7) Wang, Yun, Chen-Fu Chang, Jenny Chou, Hui-Ling Chen, Xiaolin Deng, Brandon K. Harvey, Jean Lud Cadet, and Paula C. Bickford. “Dietary supplementation with blueberries, spinach, or spirulina reduces ischemic brain damage.” Experimental Neurology193.1 (2005): 75-84. Web.
(8) Halton, Thomas L., and Frank B. Hu. “The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition23.5 (2004): 373-85. Web.
(9) Mattes, RD. “The energetics of nut consumption.” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008;17 Suppl 1:337-9.
(10) Paddon-Jones D, Westman E, Mattes RD, Wolfe RR, Astrup A, Westerterp-Plantenga M. “Protein, weight management, and satiety.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008 May;87(5):1558S-1561S.
(11)Gillin, J. C., N. Sitaram, H. Weingartner, C. Crammer, and I. Hanin. “Effects of Lecithin on Memory and Plasma Choline Levels: A study in Normal Volunteers.” Cholinergic Mechanisms Advances in Behavioral Biology(1981): 937-45. Web.