When is the best time to eat a salad?

  • 2 Minutes Read
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

Can eating salad help you eat more veggies and lose weight? If so, when is the best time to eat salad?

Best time to eat salad

Cultural backgrounds often determine the best time to eat salad

Should you eat a salad before, during, or after a meal? The time people eat salads varies by country and culture.

In American restaurants, a salad is traditionally served before the main course. In Italy, it is common to eat a green or garden salad after the main course. In the Netherlands, you may be served one large, family-sized salad at restaurants during the meal.

Salad before the meal

Increase your whole family's vegetable intake

If you are a parent and want to make sure your children, and yourself, consume a generous, natural dose of vitamins and minerals, serve the vegetables upfront when everyone is the most hungry. One of the benefits of eating salad (highlighted by this research) before the meal is that it increases our vegetable consumption by 23%. A significant increase since only one out of ten adults eats enough fruits and vegetables each day. Consuming your salad upfront helps you eat at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit each day and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day.

Eating a salad before your meal may help with weight loss

If you are trying to lose weight, eating a salad as an “appetizer” can be a smart move. Eaten before the meal, a salad loaded with low-calorie vegetables can help you feel full. You may be less likely to eat as many calories during the main meal.

Salad during the meal

What are the benefits of eating salad during the meal, as customary in the Netherlands?

A traditional Dutch meal is straightforward, often consisting of meat, a starch, and vegetables, such as a salad. Eating a salad with the main meal follows the guidelines of the USDA MyPlate. Create a healthy meal by filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits and one quarter of your plate with lean protein and one quarter of your plate with whole grains. This ensures you are getting in a range of vitamins and minerals and promotes balanced eating.

Salad after the meal

Is after the main meal the best time to eat salad, as in Italy?

There are a few reasons to eat a salad after the main course like many Italians. Salad dressing in Italy is generally made with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar or wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Because the main course is often accompanied by wine, Italians do not want the acidity of the vinegar to compete with the acidity of the wine. Secondly, the acidity of the vinegar rejuvenates the taste buds in anticipation of dessert, therefore, it makes sense that after the main course is the best time to eat salad. It heightens your enjoyment of dessert!

What are some health benefits of eating salad?

Leafy greens and colorful veggies are the cornerstones of any salad. When it comes to health, there are several benefits to getting in that daily dose of vegetables and fruits.

Looking for some inspiring salad recipes? MyNetDiary has you covered

Premium Recipes: Dietitian approved recipes already included in the MyNetDiary app

To access the Premium Recipes simply tap on the chef hat icon, and then filter your search for salads by tapping on the green tag icon to the right of the search field. Scroll down and tap on Sides on the Select Categories screen.

Import salad recipes from other websites into the MyNetDiary app

MyNetDiary can import recipe ingredients and directions directly into your account! You can then make changes and save the recipe as your own for easy and accurate tracking. To access this feature from the app go to the Me tab, then Recipe Import. Here are some additional tips for using this feature.

So, when is the best time to eat salad?

Ultimately, the answer depends on what works best for you and your lifestyle. Find a time each day that’s convenient for you to eat your salad, and you will set yourself up for success in weight loss and good nutrition.

Related content

How and why to get phytonutrients in colorful fruits and vegetables

Healthy lunch recipes for weight loss that take less than 15 minutes to prepare

How to build healthy main course salads for your weight loss plan

This blog was reviewed and updated by: Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES on April 30, 2024.

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

May 3, 2024
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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