http://www.mtxoom.com/health/ Summer Salads Are a Great Way to Boost Health and Stay Fit The health benefits of summer salads can be quite useful to a lot of people, especially those who engage in activities that easily drain the strength and reduce the body's water levels. Summer salads can be found in many lunch and dinner tables this season as lots of fresh produce reach their nutritional peak and impart optimal levels of health benefits during this time. The freshest vegetables and fruits of summer can be deftly and creatively combined to produce a delicious warm-weather feast for family and friends alike. During the summer, the warm and stifling weather can usually sap energy and water from people's bodies at a faster pace than normal. Eating a salad is a good way to recoup these lost resources while fortifying the body's defenses against viruses and bacteria that may cause sickness and other health challenges. Summer salad health benefits are typically derived from the natural chemical substances that make their health food components bristle with vivid colors. Among the foods that can be included in a highly nutritious and satisfying summer salad include: Tomatoes - The bright red color of this fruit betrays its rich lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital antioxidant that may help lower the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular ailments. Additionally, it may also help maintain skin health as well as prevent the development of neurodegenerative ailments. Carrots - The vivid orange color of this vegetable signifies its abundant content of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Its rich beta-carotene and vitamin A content combine to make it a powerful ally against problems of the eye. It is also a potent partner in the maintenance of colon, lung and heart health. It is likewise good for maintaining skin and nail health. Spinach - This leafy green contains considerable amounts of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of protein and dietary fiber. This may help fight cardiovascular ailments by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and may help maintain brain health. Lettuce - This leafy green is also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K and chlorophyll. It is believed to help facilitate good digestion and promote liver health. It may likewise help lower the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer. Onions - This vegetable has a rich content of sulfides, sulfoxides, thiosulfinates, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of this vegetable for the treatment of poor appetite and the prevention of atherosclerosis. Onion extracts are likewise recognized by WHO in the treatment of coughs, colds, asthma and bronchitis. Apples - This healthy fruit contains many vitamins and minerals. It contains the substance pectin that may help lower bad cholesterol levels as well as help in lessening the severity of diabetes. It also contains the antioxidant quercetin that may help shield against Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, the flavonoid phloridzin may also help protect the bones. Blueberries - This dark blue fruit is usually classified as a 'superfood' and this is because of the abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients in its small frame. It is hugely rich in the antioxidant anthocyanins which helps strengthen the body's resistance to free radical damage that usually brings about serious ailments like cancer and heart disease. It also has fiber that lowers cholesterol. Watermelon - This bright and watery fruit is also abundant in several antioxidants, most notably beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. These help make the fruit a potent fighter of oxidative damage that leads to many chronic illnesses. The fruit is likewise rich in the amino acid citrulline which makes the arginine amino acid, which is beneficial to the heart, the immune system and the male reproductive system. This fruit is said to have 92% water content and may prove quite handy in helping replenish lost liquids. Summer salad health benefits can easily be enhanced by adding protein to the mix. Adding these body building health foods can easily transform the salad from a mere side dish to a full-fledged main course. Salads are a great way to use up leftover chicken or steak. Other meats like turkey, tuna, salami, ham and prosciutto are great too. Those who want to steer clear from any meat may substitute beans. Yellow sweet corn may also be tossed in to further enrich the mix. Corn adds a flavorful crunch when it's cut off the cob and sprinkled into the summer salad. Corn contains phytonutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin. It also has ample amounts of fiber, vitamin B1 and folate that may help facilitate good digestion and help lower bad cholesterol levels. These may also help better control blood sugar. Nuts are a tasty and healthy addition, too. Walnuts, almonds or pine nuts are great choices in adding zing to the summer salad. Stir these nuts over medium heat until they turn a shade darker and give off an enticing aroma. A healthy salad dressing is key to fully realizing the summer salad health benefits. The best oils for salads dressings have high amounts of monounsaturated fats and low amounts of omega-6 fats. Of the readily- available oils, olive oil is probably the best choice, as it has 73% monounsaturated fat and 9% omega-6. Olive oil may help lower the risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors such as lowering levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It may also help normalize blood clotting. Furthermore, some research shows that monounsaturated fatty acids may also benefit insulin levels and improve blood sugar control. In making these salads, it is important to thoroughly clean and wash the ingredients so that bacteria and viruses may be removed. It is vital that the summer salad health benefits are not negated by the improper preparation of the ingredients. With all the fun and exciting activities going on, summer is certainly among the best times to eat. In under 20 minutes, a nutritious and healthful summer salad can be produced. Take advantage of the season when most of these health foods are in full bloom and give your family and friends a beneficial and satisfying meal they won't soon forget.