Salad is a Brain-Boosting Summer Staple

Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

saladAs the temperature heats up, there’s no need to turn to ice cream, chilled coffee drinks, or gelato. A brightly-hued salad or crisp piece of fruit helps regulate our internal body temperature and keeps us feeling healthy, refreshed, and hydrated. These plant-based staples stabilize blood sugar, lower blood pressure, eliminate arterial plaque, and make it easy to maintain a healthy body weight, since they contain a hefty dose of vitamins, nutrients and fiber. Research shows that adults who integrate at least two daily servings of leafy greens into their diet have cognitive function that’s 11 years younger, on average, than peers who pass on the Swiss chard and mustard greens. Need a place to start? Try this Mediterranean-inspired salad, which has less than 10 ingredients, provides 7 grams of fiber, and can be served immediately. Brain-Boosting Summer Salad Serves two as a main dish, or four as a side dish The colors and textures will draw you in – even before you taste this salad’s sweet, cooling flavors. Because the flavor gets even better with time, it’s perfectly portable. 1/2 red onion, diced 1 Mexican gray squash or zucchini, diced 1 cucumber, peeled and diced 2 small tomatoes, diced (and seeded if you like) 1/4 cup sliced red cabbage 2 stalks celery, sliced Kernels from 2 ears corn (about 1 1/2 cups) Pinch of sea salt Juice of 1 small lime (about 1 tablespoon) Optional: 3 tomatillos, diced; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro; 1 cup rinsed cooked or canned red beans or 1 cup sautéed tempeh; 1 cup sliced Swiss chard leaves Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and allow the salad to marinate for at least 30 minutes, but preferably 2 hours. You can forgo this step and eat the salad right away, though the flavors won’t meld as much. Options: If you use the tomatillos, peel away the papery part and make sure to wash them before cutting; this removes their sticky outer film and makes them much easier to handle. You can also use frozen corn in this recipe, though it will lack the crispness and sweetness of fresh corn. Want to make this a meal in itself instead of an accompaniment? Add beans or tempeh and you’ll have a delicious dinner in minutes. Per serving (1/2 of recipe): 159 calories, 4 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 12 g sugar, 2 g total fat, 7 g fiber, 246 mg sodium