Why extra virgin olive oil like Morocco Gold is the perfect accompaniment for a heart healthy salad.
Want to know a simple, delicious way to get your four servings of vegetables per day? Put together a nice, big salad. One sizable salad every day is the perfect way to get your daily servings in all at once, giving you flexibility with other meals and making sure you’re always on track with your daily nutrition requirements as part of a heart healthy diet.
A salad can be one of the healthiest dishes in your diet and extra virgin olive oil is the perfect accompaniment. Extra virgin olive oil is highly nutritious. It is also an unsaturated fat rather than a saturated fat. It contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids. One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains:
- Saturated fat: 14%
- Monounsaturated fat: 73% (mostly oleic acid)
- Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin K: 7% of the DV
Notably, extra virgin olive oil shines in its antioxidant content. Antioxidants are biologically active, and some of them can help fight serious diseases. The oil’s main antioxidants include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation.
So How To Create The Perfect Extra Virgin Olive Oil Salad
Start with local, seasonal produce from your farmer’s market or grocery store, then add protein and a healthy dressing and you’re good to go.
1/ Get your greens on
The veggie part of the salad is pretty easy to get right. Try to select darker greens for the base of the salad because they pack a bigger nutritional punch than lettuces like iceberg or romaine. Choosing spinach, Swiss chard or kale will supercharge your salad with nutrients.
- Lettuce — The darker or redder, the better — so think romaine and leaf lettuces (vitamin C, folic acid, potassium).
- Leafy greens — Jazz things up with spring mix, baby spinach and kale or arugula (beta-carotene, antioxidants).
Steer clear of iceberg and other pale lettuces. Their high water content means fewer nutrients.
2/ Add some crunch
- Celery (vitamin A).
- Cucumber (vitamin C).
- Purple cabbage (vitamins A and C, iron).
- Pea pods (vitamins A and C, iron).
- Broccoli florets (vitamin C).
- Alfalfa sprouts (antioxidants).
- Sunflower seeds or chia seeds (fiber, protein).
- Walnuts or almonds (fiber, protein, niacin).
- Edamame (vitamin C, iron).
Be sure to avoid processed carb additions like crunchy noodles and croutons.
3/ Create some colour
When building a great salad, let colour lead the way! The more natural colours there are in your salad, the more types of health-promoting phytonutrients – flavonoids and carotenoids – your salad contains.
- Red, orange, yellow or green peppers (vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6, folate).
- Red onion (fiber, phytochemicals).
- Pomegranate seeds (vitamins A, C and E, fiber, potassium, calcium, antioxidants).
- Tomatoes (fiber, vitamins A, C and K, potassium, manganese).
- Avocado slices (over 20 vitamins and minerals, heart-healthy fat).
- Red, purple or yellow beets (folate).
Add no more than 2 tablespoons of corn or peas per serving of salad. They’re high in starch just like bread.
4/ Punch up the protein
- Black beans, garbanzo beans or lentils (fiber).
- Chicken or lean beef.
- Salmon or water-packed tuna (omega-3 fatty acids).
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Low-fat feta cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese, parmesan or mozzarella (calcium, vitamin D).
- Tofu (heart-healthy fat, potassium).
Full-fat cheeses are high in saturated fat. Trying pairing small amounts of your favorite cheese with other proteins. Avoid processed bacon-bits, which are full of sodium and preservatives. Also, when possible, avoid deli meats, as these tend to contain nitrites.
5/ Freshen it up with fruit
- Apple or pear slices (vitamin C, flavonoids).
- Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries (vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids).
Dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, dates and raisins are higher in sugar than fresh fruit. A little goes a long way!
6/ Use some leftovers
- Brussels sprouts (vitamins C, A and B6, folate).
- Asparagus (vitamins A, E and K, folate).
- Sweet potatoes (vitamins A and C, manganese).
White potatoes are high in starch, so add sliced sweet potatoes instead since they’re delicious raw and are super-crunchy like carrots.
7/ See what’s in the cupboard
- Black or greek olives (vitamin E, healthy fat).
- Artichoke hearts (fiber, vitamin C, folic acid).
- Banana peppers (vitamin C).
- Hearts of palm (potassium).
- Mushrooms (B vitamins, vitamin D).
Remember to factor the salt, often high in canned goods, into your daily sodium intake.
8/ Dress it up wisely
- Lemon juice (vitamin C, folate).
- Lime juice (vitamin C, potassium).
- Red wine or balsamic vinegar.
- Olive oil (heart-healthy fat).
Use more vinegar citrus and olive oil. Avoid high-calorie, high-fat dressings.
Keep that salad pristine by using a dressing with beneficial fats and tasty seasonings. You can turn an otherwise healthy salad into an inflammatory nightmare by drenching it a dressing made of cheap oils, preservatives, artificial flavours and colours. The best way to avoid ruining a great salad with a terrible dressing is to break your dependence on store-bought versions and instead take a few extra minutes to make your own dressing. Homemade olive oil dressing recipes are a cinch to make.
Ingredients for Awesome Olive Oil Dressings
There are countless flavour-packed dressings that you can make using just olive oil, vinegar, and spices. Just make sure you’ve got some of these items on hand:
- A high quality cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil – avoid canola, corn and other inflammatory oils.
- A flavor-packed vinegar – balsamic and apple cider vinegars best for adding some bite.
- Lemons or lemon juice – made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. (Alternately, use Crushed Lemon Olive Oil instead.)
- Chopped fresh garlic – keeps vampires away too!
- Fresh or dried herbs and spices – you can toss chopped fresh garden herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano, dill, basil or tarragon with the salad, or add dried herbs to your olive oil dressing. Both will add savory, palate-enhancing flavor to your salad!
- Salt and pepper – try a blend of pink Himalayan, sel gris and sea salts, and a peppercorn blend with juniper berries.
Here’s a simple vinaigrette recipe:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste