This Healthy Salad Provides The Brain Boost You Need
by Kelly Paige
It’s January and we’re all trying to be the best versions of ourselves. We’re exercising more, we’re more mindful about our mental health and we’re watching what we eat. So it’s only natural that it’s salad month at HuffPost.
When most people think of salad, they think of it as diet food: the necessary means to lose weight, the path to de-bloat or the rabbit-like food you must consume to fit into those skinny jeans. But in 2019 it’s time to challenge those assumptions.
Food is so much more than a plate of ingredients; it has healing properties that can be used as preventive medicine. Enter the Better Brain Salad. Each and every element serves a purpose to not only nourish our bodies but also support healthy brain function. Let’s review.
Spinach (or any other green leafy vegetable) is rich in vitamin K, folate and beta-carotene. Research shows these brain-boosting nutrients may help slow cognitive decline and the brain’s aging process. The best part? Just one cup of raw spinach gives you your daily recommended intake of Vitamin K.
Salmon is packed full of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, aka “the healthy fat”. Omega-3s help build brain and nerve cells, support learning and memory function and have been linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which promote healthy blood flow to the brain.
They’ve also been known to prevent oxidation and nerve damage, protecting the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with planning and critical thinking.
If you eat one food to promote brain health, it should be blueberries. This superfood is bursting with flavonoids, an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals that can damage brain cells. Blueberries have also been shown to improve memory and concentration, positively affect mental health, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and even boost brain cell development.
Pomegranates are another great source of antioxidants that could promote a healthier, younger mind. They also contain high levels of polyphenols, which are known to improve cognitive abilities.
Known as the powerhouse of nuts, these guys are high in antioxidants, Omega-3s and vitamin E. Research shows they can help protect you from the inflammation that causes brain disease. Walnuts also support better brain function, aiding in better memory and mental processing skills.
Beets contain natural nitrates, which increase blood flow to the brain, improving mental and cognitive function specifically with decision-making and memory skills.
These small but mighty seeds contain brain-friendly nutrients like antioxidants, omega fats and vitamin E. They help regulate your mood, promote brain focus and fight neurological disorders.
Inflammation in the brain is believed to cause age-related diseases that ginger can help ward off with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Better Brain Salad
For the ginger honey dressing:
1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup avocado oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
4 cups fresh spinach
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup cooked beets, diced
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 (4-ounce) salmon filets, cooked
1. Place ginger, apple cider vinegar, honey, avocado oil, Dijon mustard, salt and water in high-powered blender. Blend until completely smooth.
2. Place spinach, avocado, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, beets and hemp seeds in large bowl. Toss with honey ginger dressing, using a little at a time until it’s to your liking.
3. Transfer mixed salad onto plates and top with cooked salmon. Enjoy!
Note: There will be leftover dressing. Store leftovers in airtight container in fridge for up to 1 week.