It’s easy to make a salad. In fact, it’s as simple as laying down some lettuce, slicing tomatoes, and drizzling a little dressing on top. Too many people settle for just such simple salads without really thinking hard about what makes a salad good for you. Like your clothes, your salads should be tailored to your personal needs, and each person needs different nutrients to match their lifestyle. If you feel that salads aren’t satisfying enough for you, or aren’t doing you much good, then it’s probable that you’re not building salads that fulfill your nutritional requirements. By figuring out what common salad ingredients contain what nutrients, you can build a salad, one ingredient at a time, to be exactly what you’re craving and give your body the energy it needs to get through the rest of the day.

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Remember that there’s very few appropriate salad ingredients that anyone would simply have to abstain from entirely. All food is good food, in the right doses! But you may be getting too little or too much of a particular ingredient, and find that it’s time to scale back or scale up. You won’t know which ingredient to change until you know what each ingredient is packed full of.

For starters, don’t worry much about the lettuce. It’s mostly green, crispy water, so you can pile as much on as you like. But don’t expect to get a whole lot of nutrition from it, and don’t just pile on more to satisfy an essential craving that you’re missing from your diet. Lettuce is the foundation of any salad, but not the main star.

Once you’ve got the bed of lettuce, think about your iron intake. A little dark broccoli or spinach will add flair to a salad while also being great sources of iron. Beans and lentils are other vegetable options, but if you don’t like any of those, you could try seafood: a little tuna or salmon mixed in with your salad will go a long way. Seafood also provides a number of other important nutrients, most particularly essential oils that are hard to come by in traditional Western diets. The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in these items will help to lower blood pressure and have other benefits, even if you only have them in your salad once a week or so.

How about a little color added in? Carrots are good sources of many different nutrients, such as vitamin A and various antioxidants and minerals. Other ways of getting vitamin A into you are apricots, plums, kale, and turnips or turnip greens. All these can add a great deal of variety to any salad.

A little diced hardboiled egg every once in a while on your salad will not only add lovely aesthetics, but provide you with nutrients that you would ordinarily get from meat. This goes better with salad than most meats, and adds a truly savory flavor to contrast the lightness of fruits and vegetables.

For a little added texture, various nuts and dried berries such as dried cranberries will add a nice firm resistance to the dish. And you can top it all off with a light drizzle of oil… olive oil, in particular, has been proven to be good for the heart and for many other areas of the body. So long as you don’t positively drown the salad in it, you can enjoy it every day with no negative repercussions. Yes, it’s okay to have a little fat with the rest of your meal… the key phrase being ‘little!’ By balancing everything together in moderation, you can vary your salads enough to keep them exciting and interesting while also providing your body with all the different fuel sources it needs for an energetic day.

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Janice Martin is a professional journalist who loves to cover education, politics and social sciences. She is also a media influencer with 3 million followers.