Boost Antioxidants to Preserve Vision and Stay Youthful

Peppery arugula… crisp endive and romaine… crunchy green peppers. Stars of restaurant menus, these vegetables can turn an ordinary salad into an extraordinary treat. They are power-packed with surprising nutritional benefits, according to Leo Galland, MD, author of The Fat Resistance Diet, including the ability to help fight the effects of aging, preserve vision and build bone strength.

Dr. Galland notes that salads are an excellent example of the high nutrient density foods he uses in his “fat resistant” diet program. “The vegetables in garden salad have a high ratio of nutrition to calories — I believe eating foods with high nutrient density is the key to healthy weight loss.” Here are some of the best…


The taste of arugula is distinctively sharp with an earthy aroma. Arugula is not only an excellent source of bioflavonoids, but it also contains vitamin A, which helps build immunity… potassium, important for muscles… and calcium, with 32 mg of calcium per one cup. Plus the body absorbs calcium in arugula (along with kale and broccoli) more readily than from milk. For those cutting back on milk-based dairy products, this makes arugula a very nice vegan source of calcium.


Endive is widely used in Northern Europe, especially Belgium, Holland and France. It is a potent source of vitamin K, helping to maintain bone strength, as well as vitamin A. Endive packs a big appetite-satisfying crunch for super-low calories… there are only eight calories in one cup of chopped endive! This amount of Belgium endive also contains 1.6 grams of fiber.

Romaine Lettuce

In spite of its light taste, fresh romaine lettuce is a big source of antioxidants, which are higher after consumption of fresh lettuce than after consumption of packaged lettuce. Romaine is also a good source of vitamin A, folate and vitamin K.

Green, Red and Orange Peppers

Sliced bell peppers are an appetizing addition to any garden salad and enhance your body’s levels of anti-inflammatory carotenoids. With bell peppers, the color is key to the special nutrients found in each. For example, green bell peppers are an excellent source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to preserve vision. Sweet orange peppers are also high in zeaxanthin and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. Red bell peppers are very high in the carotenoids beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants can help protect the body against free radical damage and fight the effects of aging.


When shopping for salad, freshness comes first. Select vegetables that are vibrant, brightly colored, firm and crisp. When buying romaine lettuce and arugula, look for deep green leaves that appear fresh-picked. Skip anything that is wilted or waterlogged. Buy fresh greens, rather than the packaged products and plan to eat as quickly as possible — they taste better and are more nutritious, too. For Belgium endive, look for leaves that are firm, mostly white with green-tinged edges. Don’t buy endive that has browned or softened. Same idea for bell peppers — these should be very firm to the touch when you buy them, with no soft areas.

All vegetables should be washed carefully, even fresh-picked organic ones.

Here is another surprising tip: To get the most nutrition from salad, don’t use fat-free dressing, Dr. Galland told me. “You have to consume a bit of healthy oil with vegetables to absorb carotenoids, so I recommend eating salad with dressing made with olive oil, for example.”

For creative ways to enjoy salad, including a free one-day meal plan and recipes, visit Dr. Galland’s Web site at