Want to supercharge your summer salads? Then make sure that crunchy cos lettuce is on your plate and it will be packed with nutrients before you add anything else. The rich nutrient profile, fibre, extremely low calorie and high water content combine to make the humble cos (also called romaine) lettuce a health superstar. An excellent source of vitamins A, K, C,, B6, B1, B2, B5, folate, manganese, potassium, biotin, copper, iron, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, calcium and molybdenum, cos surprisingly comprises 20% protein too, plus a way of getting some of those crucial mood-boosting, inflammation-soothing omega-3 fatty acids.

Fabulous for weight loss because of the high cellulose content and low calories, the fibre component helps calm digestion and keep cholesterol in balance, as do the carotenes and vitamin C, with the folate managing homocysteine levels, and potassium lowering blood pressure, all keeping your heart and arteries healthy from yet more angles. It can help with insomnia too – the white fluid that you see when you break or cut lettuce leaves has relaxing, soporific properties. Simply eat a few leaves to get the benefit – a cos sandwich made with granary bread works a treat.

If you needed more convincing, cos far outstrips other fibrous, crunchy salad bases. It wins the battle outright with iceberg with less sugars and sodium, twice the protein, twice the calcium, three times the vitamin K, four times the iron, eight times the vitamin C, and seventeen times the vitamin A.

Green foods are alkaline, so at least three to four servings should be in your diet every day. A salad is a perfect way to incorporate several servings of different green foods, alkalising your body, giving a host of benefits including more energy, clearer thinking, deeper sleep, and glowing skin.

Give this one a try, bursting with ingredients particularly high on the alkaline scale. Adorn with whatever extras you choose – cucumber, tomatoes, red/yellow peppers, spring onions, mint, coriander, basil, chicken, avocado, goat’s cheese, feta, halloumi, salmon, chorizo, smoked mackerel, the possibilities are endless. Your body (and mind) will thank you!

Supercharged Salad Base – serves one
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of rocket
1/2 head, cos lettuce, chopped
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced
a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds and almonds

Mix the salad greens together in a bowl. Top with celery, green pepper, almonds/seeds, parsley, and the other toppings of your choice. Dress with a light lemon and olive oil dressing or a balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

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