May 7, 2009
As vegetables are low in fat and high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, eating them can help reduce certain health problems like heart disease
The green revolution is slowly but surely happening. We are not just talking about saving the environment but people's propensity towards eating vegetables.
According to the National Nutrition Survey 2004, the mean intake of vegetables per person in Singapore grew from 1.31 servings per day in 1998 to 1.97 servings in 2004.
The Health Promotion Board recommends children between three and six years of age to take one serving of vegetables every day and those above seven years old to take two servings daily.
Eating 150g of raw, leafy vegetables - equivalent to one-sixth of a head of iceberg lettuce or three handfuls of raw baby spinach - is considered one serving. For raw, non-leafy vegetables or cooked vegetables, one serving is 100g.
Salads are one of the healthiest ways of consuming vegetables.
'Most salads start with a pile of greens. Since greens are low in calories and a good source of fibre, they're a great way to add volume to your meal without adding a lot of calories,' said Ms Pauline Chan, a dietitian and managing director of The Nutrition Place.
Ms Nehal Kamdar, a dietitian at Raffles Hospital, added: 'Salads are a healthier way of eating greens compared to stir-fries or boiling as they preserve all the nutrients in the vegetables. Vegetables have a high amount of water-soluble vitamins and some heat-sensitive vitamins may be lost due to cooking.'
Of course, if you douse your salad with salad dressing, you risk piling on the fat content of your supposedly healthy diet.
Ms Yondi Lee, a holistic nutritionist from Ascension Healing, advised avoiding creamy salad dressings.
Vegetables are healthy as they are low in fat, high in dietary fibre and complex carbohydrates and are important sources of nutrients like potassium, folate and vitamins A, C and E.
Ms Chan said that sufficient dietary fibre from vegetables can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. A diet rich in vegetables may also reduce the risk of stroke, certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes.
There are some that are termed 'super vegetables' because they are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant compounds believed to possess health-protecting qualities).
Ms Kamdar said super vegetables are categorised into a wide variety of colours like red, green, white, orange and purple. Examples include red bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, onions, carrots and Brussels sprouts.
Such vegetables are great for adding to salads for a touch of colour and texture and to make them even more nutritious.
Before you make your own salad though, remember to wash the vegetables. They should be washed whole under running water but not for too long in case they lose their water-soluble vitamins.
Mind Your Body tosses up 10 vegetables that are delicious picks for salads and five healthy salad dressings.
If you are ambitious and want to expand your green repertoire, you can recreate the recipes professional chefs have come up with in the following pages especially for our readers.
'Since greens are low in calories and a good source of fibre, they're a great way to add volume to your meal without adding calories.'
Ms Pauline Chan, a dietitian and managing director of The Nutrition Place
Try your hand at recreating these salad recipes but beware of the hidden calories in salad dressing
Avocado salad with caramelised white pearl onions, Kenya beans and vine tomato emulsion
By Chef de Cuisine Jason Ong of The Ritz-Carlton
Ingredients for salad (for two persons):
60g white pearl onions
1 tbs olive oil
1 ripe avocado
160g Kenya beans, with ends trimmed
2 sprigs yellow frisee, for garnishing
2 sprigs Chinese parsley
2 sprigs mint leaves
2 sprigs basil
4g celery, sliced finely and soaked in iced water
4 pcs roasted walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for fresh vine-ripened tomato emulsion (140ml or two portions)
100g vine-ripened tomatoes
30ml extra virgin olive oil
15ml lemon juice
½ tsp lemon salt (mixed chopped lemon skin and salt)
White pepper to taste
Preparation of fresh vine-ripened tomato emulsion:
Wash the vine-ripened tomatoes and pat dry. Remove the leaves.
Blend the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon salt and white pepper together. Keep in the refrigerator.
Preparation of salad:
Cut the white pearl onions into halves. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the white pearl onions on low heat till brown. Remove from frying pan.
Cut away the stems from the white pearl onions and remove the skin.
Remove the skin of the avocado, slice it horizontally into half and season with salt and pepper.
Boil a pot of water, add salt and boil the Kenya beans for five minutes. Remove from pot, strain and let it cool in ice water.
Pour the fresh vine-ripened tomato emulsion onto a plate, top with avocados, Kenya beans, yellow frisee, Chinese parsley, mint leaves, sliced celery and white pearl onions.
Sprinkle the roasted walnuts on top of the salad. Serve.
5 Colour Salad
By chef Barbara Chin, owner of vegetarian cafe LivinGreens at 325 Beach Road
2 shitake mushrooms, washed & sliced
4 pcs lettuce
10g peas sprouts
20g cucumber, shredded
5g red cabbage
10g beetroot, shredded
10g turnip, shredded
Organic light soya sauce ½ tsp
A pinch of black pepper
Sea salt to taste
1 stalk coriander
Season mushrooms with soya sauce and pepper and fry without oil till fragrant.
Put mushrooms and salad vegetables into a salad bowl. Blend all the salad dressing ingredients to form a paste. Mix the blended dressing with the salad vegetables and serve.
What's in a dressing?
Vinaigrette (per tablespoon)
Total fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 1.4g
Monounsaturated fat: 2.3g
Polyunsaturated fat: 3.8g
Balsamic vinegar (per tablespoon)
Total fat: 1g
Saturated fat: 0.2g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.3g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9g
Olive oil (per tablespoon)
Total fat: 14g
Saturated fat: 1.8g
Monounsaturated fat: 9.9g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.1g
Thousand island dressing (per tablespoon)
Total fat: 2g
Saturated fat: 0.2g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.4g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9g
Low-calorie French dressing (per tablespoon)
Total fat: 1g
Saturated fat: 0.1g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.2g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.6g