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August 2018

Building a Better Salad

Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Salads are a great way to solve that problem. You can fit lots of different fruits and veggies into your salad bowl. Keep a variety of ingredients on hand. Think about taste, color, and texture. That way, you can build salads that are full of flavor and nutrients. Incorporate only small amounts of each topping to add variety and keep calorie count lower.

Plate of vegetables

What to include

When making a salad as a main dish, try to include at least one ingredient from each of the groups below. This will help make sure your salad is filling and delicious.

Leafy greens

  • Arugula

  • Boston lettuce

  • Green or red leaf lettuce

  • Mixed greens

  • Romaine

  • Spinach


  • Artichoke hearts

  • Beets

  • Bell pepper

  • Broccoli

  • Tomatoes

  • Cauliflower

  • Carrots

  • Sugar snap peas

  • Celery

  • Corn

  • Cucumbers

  • Peas

  • Zucchini


  • Apple

  • Grapes

  • Pear

  • Blueberries

  • Strawberries

  • Dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or cherries


  • Edamame

  • Black beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Kidney beans

  • White beans


  • Turkey

  • Grilled chicken

  • Hard-boiled egg

  • Salmon, shrimp, or tuna

  • Tofu

  • Beef

Cheese, nuts, and extras

  • Cheddar

  • Feta

  • Mozzarella

  • Blue cheese

  • Almonds

  • Cashews

  • Walnuts

  • Peanuts

  • Pecans

  • Avocado

  • Olives

  • Sunflower seeds

Select your salad dressing

One of the best parts about eating a salad is the dressing. But there are a few things to keep in mind. A “fat-free” salad dressing may seem like a good idea, but salad dressing should actually have some fat in it. Certain fats such as oils provide important nutrients and help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats also make you feel fuller. And healthy fats such as monounsaturated (olive, canola, and safflower oils) and polyunsaturated (corn, soybean, and sunflower oils) actually help lower cholesterol and improve heart health.

Fat contains a lot of calories, so the key is to make sure you use the right amount. Limit your salad dressing to 2 tablespoons for an oil-based one, such as a vinaigrette, or 1 tablespoon for a creamy dressing like ranch.

Fill your bowl, drizzle on the dressing, and dig in!

Make your own healthy salad

Try this colorful and tasty combination: romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, avocado, cooked shrimp, and your favorite vinaigrette.


Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Mercer, Nelda, MS, RD, FADA
Date Last Reviewed: 5/17/2018
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