The World's Healthiest Salad? Yep.
I recently stumbled on what has got to be the smartest, most nutritious, easy-to-make lunch recipe in the whole damn world. It might just be the world's healthiest salad. I found it on Instagram, and it's what functional medicine expert Mark Hyman eats every day for lunch.
He calls it a "fat salad" for its generous complement of healthful fatty acids, but it's much more than that. It has a great protein, vitamin, mineral, and polyphenol profile, and it's also the consummate body-building meal.
I took it and made a couple of substitutions, but it's essentially as follows.
- Black olives (canned)
- Pumpkin seeds (or any palatable seeds, really)
- Wild salmon (canned)
- Hard-boiled egg(s)
I purposely avoided specifying any amounts so the recipe could retain its casual, laissez-faire nature. Just pretend I typed in the words, "a mess o'" before each ingredient, as in "a mess o' spinach," "a mess o' canned olives," etc. I do, however, recommend using an entire 6-ounce can of Wild Planet salmon because it contains 36 grams of protein and almost a gram of EPA and DHA.
I keep canned black olives and packages of pumpkin seeds in the cupboard, and I prepare the hard-boiled eggs ahead of time. The only ingredients that need any prep work are the tomatoes and avocados, but all that's required is a little slicing, dicing, cutting, and scooping.
Oh, and here's a little hack to keep your avocados fresh. After achieving ripeness, put them in a bowl, cover them with water, and stick them in the fridge. That should extend their lifespan by about a week.
Mix the ingredients together in whatever proportions you find palatable and add the dressing of your choice. Hyman doesn't like the store-bought stuff because they often contain gums, fillers, sugar, and soybean oil, but it's up to you if you want to go to the extra trouble of making your own with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard powder, salt, and pepper.
Me? I just use a bit of Annie's Organic Honey Mustard. While it's not as virginal and pristine as what Hyman uses (since it contains soybean oil), all the ingredients are organic.
Anybody who knows anything about food can look at the salad's list of ingredients and automatically know it's nutritious, but if you need any extra convincing, here's a short rundown of some of the nutritional attributes of each:
It's got vitamin A, C, and K, in addition to iron, folate, potassium, calcium, and plenty of fiber, not to mention a plethora of multi-tasking polyphenols. It's also full of nitrates. When converted by the body to nitric oxide, nitrates improve "skeletal muscle excitation-contraction coupling" (increase the speed and force of muscle contractions), along with giving you a boner you could use to hit fungoes.
Protein. Iron. Vitamin D. Lots of omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein of course, but also appreciable amounts of vitamins E, K, and that all-too-rare dietary vitamin D. Eggs induce a surge of mTOR, which is probably the most important cell-signaling complex for muscle growth. They also contain arachidonic acid, which the body requires to manufacture testosterone.
A little bit of protein, but also a nice complement of fatty acids. They also contain lots of magnesium, of which most people are in short supply. Not having enough is bad because the mineral is involved in anywhere from 300 to 600 enzymatic reactions in the body, depending on who you believe.
Yeah, yeah, vitamin C, but what we're mostly interested in is that they're a motherlode of lycopene. This carotenoid has the highest free radical scavenging ability of any phytochemical. It also plays a supportive role in everything from prostate health to heart function.
Some protein, plenty of vitamins and minerals, fiber, scads of polyphenols and carotenoids, and stuffed with monosaturated fat.
Calcium, magnesium, and polyphenols, including lots of oleuropein, which is responsible for that burning sensation you feel in the back of your throat when you ingest olive oil. This polyphenol may also cause white fat cells to act more like brown fat cells (and thus burn more body fat), increase testicle size and production of testosterone, and even increase insulin sensitivity.
BTW, you could use green olives instead of black and get all the same health benefits, but I think black olives marry with the other ingredients in the salad better than green olives.
How Often Should I Eat It?
How often? I'll give you the same answer as when people ask how often they should exercise: Once a week is better than zero times a week; twice a week is better than once; three times a week is better than twice, and so on.
I dare say that if everyone in the country ate this salad at least twice a week, it would cut the nation's healthcare expenditures by a third. They'd fulfill their dietary requirements for most vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, polyphenols, fatty acids, and proteins. And they'd start to look a lot better naked, too.
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