12 healthy ingredients you should be adding to your salad

Foxys Forest Manufacture / ShutterstockSalads don’t have to be boring.
  • There are certain ingredients that can add both nutrition and flavour to a salad.
  • INSIDER talked to registered dieticians to find out what they add to their salads.
  • They recommended adding everything from cottage cheese to seaweed.

Eating salad can be a healthy choice, but if you are looking to take your meal to a whole new level, it can be helpful to add some particularly nutrient-dense toppings on top of your greens.

To dress up your salad in style, we talked to some expert dietitians about all the best and surprising salad additions that make any salad a satisfying and healthy meal. Below are some of the toppings they recommend keeping in mind.


Granola will add an unexpected crunch.

PixabayIt goes best with spinach.

“One of my favourite unexpected salad toppers is granola,” said registered dietitian Sheri Kasper, RDN, LDN. One of my go-to combinations is spinach salad topped with caramelised onions, goat cheese, and strawberry granola, she added.


Cottage cheese is full of protein.

Wikimedia CommonsConsider topping your salad with the protein-packed cheese.

“Cottage cheese is a great protein-packed source to add to your salads,” said registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD.

Muuna cottage cheese is a source of complete protein and is convenient and able to be consumed without the preparation time many other vegetarian protein sources require, she added.


Blueberries are a low-calorie addition to salads.

PixabayThey will add an unexpected sweetness.

“Fresh and frozen fruit is often overlooked as a way to boost the flavour and the nutrition of your salad,” said registered dietitian Christy Brissette, MS, RD.

“I love topping my salads with a handful of fresh blueberries so I get natural sweetness for only [roughly] 80 calories along with filling fibre, vitamin C, and vitamin K,” she added.


Eggs are cheap and satisfying.

Neilson Barnard/GettyImagesYou can top just about any salad with an egg.

“Two eggs provides 12 grams of high-quality protein for slow-burning, sustained energy,” suggested Brissette. Eggs are also one of the most wallet-friendly protein sources.


Seaweed can replace salt on your salad.

PixabaySprinkling nori on your salad will give you a nutrient boost.

“Instead of using the salt shaker, get some nori sheets and chop away with some scissors over your salad,” Brissette advised. Seaweed contains vitamins A and C along with minerals such as calcium and magnesium, she said.


Kefir can be used in salad dressings and will give you probiotics.

Brendan Hoffman/GettyUse it as the base for your favourite dressing.

“The drinkable cousin of yogurt makes a great base for a delicious and healthy salad dressing,” Brissette suggested. Kefir is even higher than yogurt in probiotics, the healthy bacteria that can help promote gut health, she added.


Dried figs are the perfect sweet addition.

Flickr/snickclunkMission figs are full of nutrients.

“I like to half or quarter dried figs and add them to my salads,” registered dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD told INSIDER.

Not only do they add great texture and a bit of sweetness to your salad, but she said black mission figs are also rich in antioxidants and fibre.


Whole grains will make your salad more satisfying.

joshuaraineyphotography/iStockPair quinoa and kale together.

“I almost always have some type of whole grain in my salad,” Upton added. “My favourite is cooked farro, but it’s often quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta, which can turn a salad into a satisfying meal,” she said.


Nutritional yeast has a salty, cheese-like taste.

Wikimedia CommonsNutritional yeast is a popular food product often used in vegan cooking.

“This is an amazing vegan product that adds cheesy flavour and boosts the system with vitamin B12,” suggested registered dietitian Dina Merhbi, RD.


Sunflower seeds are incredibly nutritious and tasty.

ironed orchid/flickrThey will add a nutritious punch to any salad.

Sunflower seeds add the best boost of magnesium and vitamin E to your salad, which can help with focus, digestion, constipation, heart health, and bone strength, Merhbi explained.


Flaxseed oil can be mixed in with your favourite dressing.

Dvortygirl/Wikimedia CommonsFlaxseed is commonly used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation.

Flaxseed oil is an amazing way to add omega-3 fats into your salad,” Merhbi told INSIDER. The oil might help boost brain power and performance, she added.


Jicama will add crunch to your salad.

michi louise turner/flickrJicama contains a prebiotic.

Jicama provides a satisfying crunch and is high in nutrients such as fibre and vitamin C,” suggested registered dietitian Alena Kharlamenko, RD. Jicama also contains inulin, which is a prebiotic and is beneficial for digestion, she added.

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