Get healthy with the help of a salad a day and the USDA Dietary Guidelines

Every five years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases their Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In January of 2016, they released the guidelines for 2015-2020 to guide people towards a healthier lifestyle and to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Here are a few ways the USDA suggests bettering your diet:

1. Select a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables: While everyone loves a classic salad, make sure you’re mixing up your fruits and veggies. Add some spinach to your romaine and don’t be afraid to top it off with a little fruit. Mandarin oranges and strawberries are both great salad toppers.

2. Eat plenty of grains, making half of them whole-grains: This one is easy enough. Did you know you can make a grain salad? You can mix grains like quinoa, spelt and freekeh with your greens or go for an entirely grain salad. Read more about the benefits of grain salads here.

3. Choose a variety of lean protein foods including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and nuts and seeds: Proteins are also a simple addition. You can even marinade your meats in salad dressing to give them an extra kick of flavor. Proteins, such as eggs, are also very beneficial to salads. The oils in foods such as salad dressings, eggs and avocados contain omega 3 fatty acids, which help your body to absorb all of the nutrients from your salad vegetables.

4. Use healthy vegetable oils like canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean and sunflower: As mentioned above, healthy oils help your body absorb nutrients from salad vegetables. Many salad dressings and marinades contain soybean and canola oils, which help with the absorption of the Vitamin C, Vitamin E and folate found in salads.

Visit choosemyplate.gov for more detailed information on the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines and learn how to make the healthiest choices for your diet.