13 Healthy Salad Toppings for Your Diet
Skip those empty-calorie dressings and stock up on these nutritious, delicious salad toppers.
A hearty salad can make the perfect quick lunch or light dinner, especially if you’re eating healthy salads to help lose weight. But, creamy dressings, croutons and dried fruit can quickly turn your healthy lunch into a splurge. Here are a few of our favorite healthy salad toppings bursting with flavor and healthy nutrients.
While it’s best to avoid foods high in saturated fat like bacon or fried chicken as a salad topping, good fats are always welcome. Our bodies need fat to feel satisfied from a meal. Oftentimes when we try to avoid fat, we end up eating too many calories from carbohydrates, which can cause weight gain and other complications. Tossing some olives in your lunch salad can help you keep working away until it’s time for dinner.
Cherry tomatoes are a beautiful way to add color and nutrients to your salad like vitamins C and A. The lycopene in tomatoes can help lower your risk for stroke and other chronic diseases. For an even bigger tomato hit, try creating an entire salad out of them.
Adding fresh broccoli to your salad is another way to get that crunch you crave without the junk. Broccoli is loaded with nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C and folate. It is also high in fiber, which will help keep you full all afternoon. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are even linked to preventing cancer, so whip up an easy broccoli salad tonight!
Calling all runners! You don’t need to rely on starchy pasta during your training diet. A salad topped with beets may be all you need. Beets have been proven to improve running performance and are chock full of nutrients. Try this salad recipe that balances beets earthy flavor with the natural sweetness of berries.
Think small salads can’t be filling? Try adding quinoa to it. This little protein-packed seed has a rice-like texture and can be tossed into any side salad or healthy main dish salad recipe. It is also gluten-free, providing a great grainy substitute for anyone avoiding the big G. Quinoa is also ideal for vegans and vegetarians, because it provides a complete protein source.
Berries make a delicious salad topper and they have a long list of health benefits. Strawberries have been linked to cancer prevention. Blueberries can help protect against heart disease and possibly even Alzheimer’s. Raspberries and blackberries also help protect against cancer, so choose your favorite and toss them with some spinach. Try this strawberry spinach recipe to start.
If you prefer a hearty salad with plenty of meat or protein, consider tossing some grilled salmon on your salad. (We have plenty of recipes for inspiration!) Salmon has just as much protein as chicken or beef, but less saturated fat. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which protects against heart disease.
If you’re a ranch dressing lover, then avocados might be your new best friend. Avocados provide that creamy texture we crave in salad dressing, but without the empty calories. The fat in avocados has been linked with improving heart disease. It can also help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol. Try this DIY avocado salad dressing tonight.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are an easy way to add some protein to your salad when you’re dashing out the door to work. (Try this recipe!) Just sprinkle a handful over your salad for improved bone, heart and gut health. Chickpeas can also improve sleep and memory, so try adding them to your weekday lunch to become the office superstar.
Adding seeds to your salad gives it a hearty bite and a serious nutrient bump. Hemp seeds can help lower your cholesterol and provide a source of complete protein. Sunflower seeds are rich in protein, antioxidants and healthy fats. Pumpkin seeds are high in vitamins and minerals and may even help decrease anxiety—try them roasted with this easy recipe.
Tofu isn’t just for vegetarians. It can help lower your risk for diabetes, obesity and heart disease. It has also been associated with cancer prevention. Tofu can be grilled for a firmer texture or mixed into an eggless egg salad for a flavorful salad topping.
Topping your salad with chicken breast can take it from a boring side to a savory meal. Chicken breast is low in calories while providing tons of protein. Just don’t subject yourself to boring, poached, flavorless chicken. Serve up this chicken chopped salad for a change of pace.
If you are usually a crouton-addict, change up your crunch with almonds. Eating plenty of nuts like almonds can not only help you live longer, but studies suggest that they can also help decrease belly fat and lower the risk of heart disease. This Almond Chicken Salad is seriously satisfying.