Salads Should Be Your Best Friend!

Hundreds of population studies show that raw vegetable consumption offers strong protection against cancer.1 The National Cancer Institute recently reported on over 300 different studies that all showed the same basic information: if consumed in large enough quantities, vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers, and raw vegetables have the most powerful anticancer properties of all foods.2 However, less than one in 100 Americans consumes enough calories from raw vegetables to ensure this defense! I encourage my patients to eat two salads each day (or one salad and one green smoothie, which is discussed later in this chapter), and a glass of freshly squeezed vegetable juice whenever possible. To help you remember the importance of raw vegetables, put a big sign on your refrigerator that says, “The Salad is the Main Dish.”

The word salad here means any vegetable eaten raw or uncooked. Fresh fruit, unsulfured dried fruits, canned beans, and a delicious dressing can be added to it. Eating a huge, delicious salad is the secret to successful weight control and a long healthy life.

This health makeover program encourages you to eat raw vegetables in unlimited quantities, but think big. Since they have a negative caloric effect, the more you eat, the more weight you will lose. Raw foods also have a faster transit time through the digestive tract, resulting in more weight loss than their cooked counterparts. The objective is to eat as many raw vegetables as possible, with the goal of one-pound daily. An easy way to accomplish this is to eat a salad at the beginning of your lunch, and then have some raw vegetables with dip before dinner. This could be an entire head of lettuce with one or two tomatoes and some shredded peppers, beets, or carrots. Or, you could have cucumber and shredded cabbage with shredded apples and raisins, or raw broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and snow pea pods with a delicious humus or salsa dip. The possibilities are endless, and Book Two details many ways for you to reach this goal. Though it may seem daunting, it is far from impossible to consume one pound of raw vegetables, especially if it is split between two meals. Believe it or not, an entire pound is less than 100 calories of food.

My long-time advice to eat a large amount of raw vegetables—a.k.a. a salad—before lunch and dinner has been tested by the medical community. Researchers used a crossover design to track the calories consumed by the same people when they ate salads as an additional first course at a meal and when they didn’t. The research showed that consuming salads reduces meal-calorie intake and is an effective strategy for weight control.3 Raw vegetables are not only for weight control, they also promote superior health in general.

When you add one of my delicious fruit, nut, or avocado-based dressings to the salad, the monounsaturated fats in the dressing increase the body’s ability to absorb the anti-cancer compounds in the raw vegetables.4 The synergistic combination of the raw vegetables and the healthy dressing makes the salad a health food superhero.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

1. Link LB, Potter JD. Raw versus cooked vegetables and cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004;13(9):1422-1435. Franceschi S, Parpinel M, La Vecchia C, et al. Role of different types of vegetables and fruit in the prevention of cancer of the colon, rectum, and breast. Epidemiology 1998;9(3):338-341. McEligot AJ, Rock CL, Shanks TG, et al. Comparison of serum carotenoid responses between women consuming vegetable juice and women consuming raw or cooked vegetables. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999;8(3):227-231.

2. Key TJA, Thorogood M, Appleby PN, Burr ML. Dietary habits and mortality in 11,000 vegetarians and health conscious people: results of a 17-year follow up. BMJ 1996;313:775-779.

3. Rolls BJ, Roe LS, Meegns JS. Salad and satiety: energy density and portion size of a first-course salad affect energy intake at lunch. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004;104(10):1570-1576.

4. Unlu NZ, Bohn T, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J Nutr. 2005;135(3):431-436.

Image credit: Carey Tilden

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
aunt cia - August 26, 2009 9:50 PM

Dr Fuhrman,
I did what you said and made a sign for my fridge:
It's going to be there for all to see, including me!

Greg - December 16, 2009 12:22 PM

Making salad a main dish in my diet not only made me feel better; it's made me enjoy my foods more. I make awesome salads now!

Thanks for the link to this post Emily!

Simone - January 3, 2010 5:43 PM

I would like to start the Eat for Life plan, but I am unsure as to what I can put on my pound of raw salad per day instead of salad dressings. Please provide some feedback because I have read the book and made my notes, but that is my ONLY hold up to start the program so that I do not start it off incorrectly.

Deana Ferreri - January 4, 2010 10:57 AM

There are lots of salad dressing recipes in Dr. Fuhrman's books, and a few here on his website:

Robert - September 4, 2011 8:43 PM

This concept of making the salad the main meal is basically the way I've eaten this summer. Two huge salads per day! I feel light and very energetic. Veggies, nuts, legumes, hemp seed, sundried tomatoes are just some of the things I add to it. I plan to continue this into the Fall and Winter. I could certainly use some of Dr. Fuhrman's salad dressing recipies for variation though!

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