Anticancer Foods: Salad Greens Uses & Benefits

What Are Salad Greens?

The word salad comes from the Latin word “Herba Salta” meaning salted Herbs. It was so named because the salad was usually seasoned with a lot of salt to give it flavor. Ancient

Egyptians considered lettuce an aphrodisiac and usually offered it to the fertility God Min. Salad greens were also eaten 2500 years ago by Persian kings and Romans and Greeks thought that lettuce helps you sleep peacefully at night.

How Are Salad Greens Typically Used?

The popularity of the salad increased during the Roman and Greek civilizations. The Romans were especially fond of salad. They grew salad greens and consumed them both raw and minced. During Emperor Dominican’s reign, salad started to be served at the beginning of the feast instead of at the end of the meals. Salad Greens are a family of leafy green vegetables that often include cabbages, and lettuce like iceberg, escarole,  and frisee.

Salad greens are so popular because they are loaded with essential nutrients that offer several health benefits. Although each vegetable offers a different combination of nutrients, eating any of these vegetables is good for overall health.

What Are Endives, Lettuce, and Escarole?

Endive is a leafy green vegetable belonging to the chicory root family. Different types of endives are available. Escarole is a specialty of Italian food or salad. It is a leafy vegetable that looks like lettuce but is bitter in taste while romaine lettuce is a lush dark green colored vegetable that offers many powerful health benefits.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Salad Greens?

Rich in Antioxidants:

Lettuce, escarole, and endive are rich in many antioxidants like vitamin A, C, etc. Antioxidants are protective agents that protect the body against oxidative damage. Long-term exposure to free radicals that cause oxidative damage leads to chronic inflammation. Kaempferol is an antioxidant present in escarole and it protects the body against chronic inflammation. Vitamin A and C present in lettuce also reduce oxidative stress by eliminating free radicals from the body.

Bone and heart health:

Endive and escarole both are rich in vitamin K which plays a vital role in blood clotting and bone metabolism. It also increases calcium absorption which further strengthens the bones. Similarly, increased intake of Vitamin K can reduce the risk of bone fractures.

Romaine lettuce is rich in potassium which is important for maintaining cardiovascular health. Folate present in Roman lettuce further protects the heart by breaking homocysteine so that body can remove it. Accumulation of homocysteine in the body contributes to heart complications. So, romaine lettuce is a good way of keeping your homocysteine levels in check.

Eye health:

Romaine lettuce and escarole both are rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important part of rhodopsin a pigment in the eye that differentiates between light and darkness. Similarly, deficiency of Vitamin A can cause a number of eye-related diseases for example cataracts, night blindness, etc.

What Makes Salad Greens An Anticancer Food?

American cancer society recommends that a person should eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables on daily basis in order to reduce the risk of cancer. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and are an inexpensive way to reduce the risk of cancer. Eating vegetables will also reduce your intake of processed sugary food that leads to many diseases including cancer.

Leafy green vegetables like kale, lettuce, endive, and escarole are good and natural sources of antioxidants and vitamins. Including these in your meal will decrease your chances of having cancer.

Lettuce contains folate which reduces the risk of mouth, larynx, stomach, lung, and skin cancer. Some studies suggested that a deficiency of folate can have an increased risk of lung, cervical, and stomach cancer. Moreover, we have established the role of antioxidants in cancer prevention. Therefore, including leafy green vegetables in your diet may save you from many health complications including cancer.



Chef Shedric

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