Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Salad greens! Whatever you have for dinner, always include a hearty salad filled with dark greens.
Unless you live under a rock, you have heard that green leafy vegetables are healthy right? In fact, in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic, says greens can significantly enhance the ability of your endothelium (the innermost lining of your blood vessels) to produce nitrous oxide. And nitrous oxide is the molecule that opens up your vessels so blood can flow more easily and removes plaque. Dr. Esselstyn recommends 6 servings of dark greens per day! Yes 6! How are you going to do that? And what's a serving anyway?
"The endothelial progenitor cells can be really made to sparkle with especially something like green leafy vegetables." Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn from his eCornell lecture "Eating for a Healthy Heart".
Greens Aren't Always Green
Dr. Esslstyn says a serving is the size of your fist (after any cooking that takes place). And it's not as hard as it sounds to get your" greens". It's not all about lettuce. All of the following count as greens: bok choy, swiss chard, kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, beet greens, napa cabbage, cilantro, parsely, spinach, arugula, and asparagus. You'll notice from this list that not everything is "lettuce" and some aren't even green in color.
Enter the "Big Salad"
"How about a big salad...it's a salad only bigger with lots of stuff in it." Elaine Benes, Seinfeld.
Elaine Benes was right (for all you Seinfeld fans). It's good to eat a "big salad". Once upon a time every restaurant and every home cook included a "dinner salad" with the entree. Not so anymore. Restaurants now charge a hefty price for a rather anemic looking salad and most home cooks can't be bothered anymore with all the washing and chopping. But we aren't even talking about a little side plate of lettuce with a few pieces of tomato. We are talking about a "big salad" - as Elaine said so eloquently "a salad only bigger with lots of stuff in it".
So get yourself a nice wide, deep bowl (Target has a nice one here) and fill it with items from the above list plus whatever else you like - carrots, tomatoes, radishes, green and red pepper strips. Throw in a few beans for extra protein and you have yourself a true dinner salad. If you prepare a big hearty salad with at least one meal per day you can get your 6 servings of greens by incorporating those vegetables into the bowl.
Plus by eating a big salad BEFORE the entree you will like eat less as 6 cups of salad is very filling!
Get Inspired in the Produce Aisle
The next time you are in the grocery store, take a slow walk through your produce department and pick up some of these "greens" as well as lots of other brightly colored fruits and vegetables to include in your "big salad". Your endothelial cells will thank you!