When have you high cholesterol, changing your diet is one of the first recommendations your doctor will likely give, because eating a primarily plant-based diet can improve your heart health and overall health rather quickly.
But the shift can be confusing and frustrating if you don’t have help from a nutritionist or dietician. We can’t send you a diet expert, but we’ll share a doctor-recommended power salad that boosts your daily intake of fiber and nitrates, both known to help keep cholesterol at healthy levels.
Plus, if you follow the recipe, this super salad lasts almost a week in the fridge! Read on for this easy shortcut to a heart-healthy diet.
Using Food as Your Medicine
For Cholesterol Awareness Month, we asked Martin Milner, naturopath, CEO and medical director of the Center for Natural Medicine what lifestyle changes can lower cholesterol levels or keep them in healthy ranges.
In the previous article, “I have high cholesterol; Now what?” Dr. Milner explained that switching to an all or primarily plant-based diet, exercising consistently, and managing stress lead to major health improvements. But most of us need help from an expert to vastly improve our diets, he says.
“Your doctor should be helping you with nutrition or they should have a dietician that they refer you to,” he stresses.
However, we know this doesn’t always happen. So, we’re sharing Dr. Milner’s Power Salad Recipe, which he recommends for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or concerns about chronic disease. It’s also ideal for healthy people who want to eat better.
He says this power salad is packed with “nitrates or nitric oxide cofactors or precursor molecules to support increased circulation, artery dilation and blood pressure control.” Studies find that just a cup of nitrate-rich vegetables a day lowers systolic blood pressure, and the risk for peripheral artery disease.
This power salad is for anyone who wants food as their medicine, he adds. He offers a long list of ingredients but explains that large amounts of celery and beets are key if you want to lower blood pressure. He recommends eating four stalks of celery and three cooked beets daily! With that in mind, experiment with the ingredients to create your favorite power salad. Chose organic produce when possible.
Power Salad Ingredients
- Arugula – a great tasting, nutty-flavored salad green
- Asparagus – raw tips for the kidneys and immune system; high in vitamins A,C and iron
- Broccoli – a good source of plant protein. (One cup (88 g) of chopped broccoli = 2.5 g of protein.)
- Cabbage (red) – for stomach health and ulcers; high in fiber, and vitamins A and C
- Cabbage (white) – for stomach health and ulcers; high in fiber, and vitamins A and C
- Carrot – for the skin and mucus membranes; rich in vitamin A
- Cauliflower – finely chopped, blanched or steamed briefly; a good grain substitute
- Celery – be generous for lowering blood pressure (4 stalks daily); high in fiber
- Cilantro – great for detox and taste
- Garlic – consider as a flavoring in salad dressing
- Mushrooms – for the immune system
- Onions (green, scallions, white, red, or yellow) – use generously for flavor, chop finely
- Parsley – great for the kidneys; a gentle diuretic
- Peppers – sweet red, yellow, orange or a mix of all
- Daikon radish (red or white) – bitters great for the liver
- Spinach – a great source of vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium
- Sprouts – alfalfa
- Sprouts – mung bean; high in vitamin C
- Sprouts – pea, very tasty
- Sprouts – red radish, spicy; great for the liver
- Sprouts – sunflower; excellent source of essential amino acids, vitamins A, D, E, and the B complex including folate
- Watercress – great for the liver; 100 g of watercress contains 2.3 g of protein and 11 calories
Healthy Dressing Ideas
Dr. Milner reminds us to avoid dressings high in fat, salt, or sugar. Instead, try a simple vinaigrette with a healthy oil and something acidic like vinegar or lime juice. Here are a few of his ideas:
- Pico de Gallo and/or salsa instead of salad dressing
- Avocado, or avocado oil base salad dressing for essential fats
- Fresh squeezed lime over the avocado or whole salad
- Olive oil for omega-9 fatty acids
- Grape seed oil with high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant
Add Some Powerhouse GarnishesIn the recipe below, you'll notice that you add garnishes when you're ready to eat the salad rather than in the big mix. This helps the salad last longer!
- Artichoke hearts – great for the liver
- Cooked chickpeas, kidney beans, garbanzo beans
- Cranberry, fresh or dried – for kidneys, blood vessel walls, and the heart (organic is hard to find)
- Seeds (whole or freshly ground) such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds
- Nuts – almonds (high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), pecans, or walnuts – rich sources of calories, protein, essential fats omegas 3,6,9, and fiber
- Sliced apples, blueberries, cherries, or peaches
Secrets to an Everlasting Salad | Directions
- Rinse all vegetables.
- Cut or chop up all the ingredients.
- Rinse thoroughly again and then spin in a salad spinner to dry as much as possible.
- Make a large portion in two big serving bowls at a time.
- Air dry for 1-2 hours; eat the moist areas
- Pack remaining dry ingredients in storage bags, removing all air.
- Each time you eat it, rinse and spin the salad again to freshen it.
- Add garnishes and dressings and then serve.
The salad stays fresh for four to five days. The dryer ingredients are when you pack it, the longer it lasts refrigerated.