How To Make A Bone-Healthy Salad

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Bone Coach | Bone-Healthy Salad

Whether you’re looking to add a fresh addition to your diet, or you’re trying to up your intake of bone-healthy nutrients, salads can be a great way to do just that.


In my house, and in my own diet, salads are a staple. So much so, that for Father’s Day my daughter was even able to identify them as my favorite food!



When it comes to building your own bone-healthy salad, you want to add the right nutrients, minimize the antinutrients, and, most importantly, make it taste great!


Below are my tips on how to do it (at the end is my favorite homemade dressing recipe): 


Select the right greens


My favorite green for most salads is arugula. Arugula is a member of the Cruciferous (Brassica) family which also includes Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.


Bone Coach | Arugula Bone-Healthy Salad


It has small individual green leaves that provide a little bit of chew, a little bit of crunch, and a distinct peppery taste. 


Why am I such a fan?


Packed with nutrients

It packs a solid mix of calcium, potassium, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A—all of which are important for bone and general health.1


Just 85g (about 3 ounces) provides up to 200mg of calcium—a key mineral for those wanting to improve their bones.


Bone Coach | Arugula Bone-Healthy Salad


Currently the Recommended Daily Allowance for calcium is 1,000-1,200mg from all sources for adults.2


Enjoying one, or even two, salads a day can help get you closer to that number.


Low in oxalates

Oxalate, or oxalic acid, is an organic acid found in plants. It’s considered an antinutrient because of its ability to bind minerals like calcium and iron in our intestinal tract and block their absorption.


If you’re like the majority of the population who lack the intestinal bacteria (i.e. Oxalobacter Formigenes and others) that break down oxalate and use it for energy, it may cause issues for you.3


Those issues include kidney stones, joint pain, and other health problems.4


Oxalates may also bind up calcium you think is contributing to your daily intake. So, when choosing greens for your salad, consider choosing those lower in oxalates.


Low oxalate salad greens include:

  • arugula

  • romaine

  • butter lettuce varieties

  • boston

  • bibb

  • red and green lettuces5


Which lettuce greens are highest in oxalate?

  • Swiss chard

  • spinach

  • curly kale


Arugula’s low oxalate content makes it a great foundation for salads.


And if you are adding higher oxalate foods into the mix, I wouldn’t make them staples, and I would consider adding additional calcium-rich foods or supplementation to help with binding that oxalate… while at the same time ensuring you’re still reaching your calcium totals for the day.


It’s versatile

Arugula is a great standalone leafy green that can be used in place of basil for pesto, sauteed with garlic and onion as a side veggie, or added to chicken, fish and seafood dishes. 


Easy to prepare

If you’re in a hurry when preparing a meal, arugula really doesn’t need much more than a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (good quality), a splash of apple cider vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper to be a fantastic side salad.


If you have more time, that’s when you can get creative and bring in more veggies.



Where can I get arugula?


If it’s Spring, Summer, or Fall you can likely find some at your local farmer’s market.


I’m a fan of buying local when possible. When you buy direct from farmers or farmer’s markets, the time from harvest to the time you eat is significantly less than most options in the grocery store. The longer the time from harvest, the less nutritious our food becomes.


Bone Coach | Whole Foods Arugula Bone-Healthy Salad


That said, we don’t all have access to farmers’ markets, and the grocery store may be our best option.


Whole Foods has organic baby arugula in plastic clamshells in its produce section. Most grocers carry Earthbound Organic Baby Arugula or similar brands.


Bone Coach | Earthbound Organic Arugula Bone-Healthy Salad


Make sure the leaves don’t look brown, wilted, and wet. Grab from the back, and try to find those with the latest possible “use by” date.


Boost Nutrients Through Tasty Salad Toppings


Here are some of my favorite additions to any bone (and body) healthy salads. 



Want to add a creamy texture and lots of nutrients to your salad? Reach for an avocado. 


Bone Coach | Avocado Salad


Avocados are a rich source of Vitamin K, C, E, B5, B6, Folate, and Potassium.6


They’re also high in fiber and heart-healthy oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid also found in olive oil, that has been shown to reduce inflammation.7


Ripe avocados have transitioned from bright green to a slightly brownish color. If their skin is tender to the touch, and leaves a small imprint when you press it, it’s ready to eat.


Here’s a good step-by-step tutorial on how to prep an avocado. You can make slices or cubes and add right to the top of your salad.


Another great option: blend avocados into a homemade salad dressing for a creamier texture.


If you bought multiple avocados that are ripe, and you don’t plan on using them that day, store the rest in the fridge to keep them fresh.



Bone Coach | Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes and textures and are a great addition to the mix. Being 95% water, they add a refreshing, hydrating crisp to any salad.


They’re rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, Potassium, Molybdenum, and Manganese.


Cucumbers are also a fantastic source of “sufficient amounts” of silicon—a vital mineral for collagen cross-linking and bone mineralization.8


Dice these into tiny cubes and sprinkle over top of my salad.


Fermented foods (Probiotics)

Fermentation is the process by which bacteria and yeast convert starches and sugars in food into acids and alcohols. These acids and alcohols preserve the food and serve as a home for large quantities of beneficial bacteria (probiotics).9


Probiotics have been shown to help improve digestive health, boost immune function, and make foods easier to digest. 10 11 


Fermentation also leads to greater nutrient availability and easier to digest foods.12


For these reasons, I love to add a scoop of homemade sauerkraut on top of some of my salads.


Bone Coach | Sauerkraut probiotics


If you’ve never made your own sauerkraut, I’d recommend getting a few wide mouth mason jars and an “Easy Fermenter Wide Mouth Lid Kit.” The kit comes with a small book that has some simple recipes for getting started.


It’s super easy and a great skill to learn.


If you choose to buy sauerkraut or other fermented foods (e.g. kimchi, pickles) from the store, avoid the shelf-stable, non-refrigerated sauerkraut. It contains no probiotics.


Also be sure to avoid options that contain vinegar, sodium benzoate, sodium bisulfate, and sugar. 


Bubbie's sauerkraut | Bone Coach


I like Bubbie’s, Farmhouse Culture, and Wild Brine brands in the refrigerator section. Raw and unpasteurized is best. 



Without fiber and prebiotics, those probiotics we just talked about… can’t survive.


Prebiotics feed your probiotics.


How do prebiotic fibers work?


All prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber. Fiber passes through the small intestine undigested. All of it arrives into the large intestine (your colon) unchanged.


When prebiotic fibers are broken down and fermented by our gut bacteria, the byproduct is positive effects on essential bodily functions and overall health.


So where do we get these prebiotics?

  • Chicory Root

  • Jerusalem Artichoke

  • Garlic

  • Onions (Raw & Cooked)

  • Leeks

  • Asparagus and many many more


One of the best-studied prebiotics fibers, inulin, has been found in over 36,000 plants… so if you’re consuming enough plant foods throughout the day, you’re likely getting some of these fibers too.


Some great prebiotic foods you can add to your salads include garlic, onions, apples, sunchokes (jerusalem artichokes), and various roots (chicory, burdock, jicama).


For the sunchokes and roots, you can easily shave a small amount over your salad using a vegetable grater.


Even though they contain oxalates, two of my favorite foods to add in small amounts are raw, shaved carrots and beets.


Bone Health | Carrot Beet Salad


They add a beautiful pop of color, a hint of sweetness, and a type of prebiotic fiber that can positively affect digestive health.13 14



No better way to top off a salad than with a handful of sprouts or microgreens.


Bone Coach | Sprouts Microgreens salad


Sprouts are seeds that have become young plants and are harvested within 2-7 days.


Microgreens are small plants (with leaves) harvested at 7-21 days after germination.15


Both add a light crunch and crisp flavors. Both are concentrated sources of nutrients.


Broccoli sprouts in particular are a fantastic source of sulforaphane—a sulfur-rich compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and cabbage.


With regards to bone health, sulforaphane has been shown to “stimulate osteoblast activity and diminish osteoclast bone resorption.”16


In other words, it can increase bone-building and decrease bone breakdown!


Lean proteins

Contrary to popular belief, protein is important for bone-health.17


Protein makes up roughly 50% of our bone volume. We need a daily supply of dietary protein to maintain this bone.18


To build bone, we need 0.8 grams of protein/per kg body weight (0.545 times your body weight in pounds) on a daily basis minimum.19 20


Many of us fall short here. Adding lean protein to your salad can boost your intake. 


Some of my favorite go-to lean proteins to accompany a salad: 

  • Soft-boiled eggs (organic, free range or pasture-raised)

  • Sockeye salmon fillet (wild caught, Alaskan)

  • Bone-in canned salmon (great source of calcium too)

  • Bone-in sardines (great source of additional calcium)

  • Baked Cod filet (wild caught, Atlantic)

  • Baked chicken (organic, pasture-raised or free range)


Healthy fats

In order to ensure you’re absorbing all of the wonderful fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) in your salad, you need to make sure you have enough healthy fats.


Here are a few of my favorites:


And to top off my salads, I’ll usually add one (or a combination) of these fats to my favorite homemade salad dressing below.


My Favorite Dairy-Free “Cheesy” Herb & Turmeric Dressing


This is my go-to, anti-inflammatory dressing. It combines fresh herbs and spices, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and your favorite healthy fat/oil.


Bone Coach | Cheesy turmeric dressing


It also uses non-fortified nutritional yeast, which is packed with B-vitamins, and provides a cheesy (dairy-free) flavor to any dish.


Here’s what you need…

  • 1 Tbsp herbs, finely chopped (Fresh, organic. Favorites are rosemary, sage, and thyme)

  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black peppercorns

  • ¼ teaspoon Celtic sea salt or Redmond real salt

  • 1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or macadamia nut oil

  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (organic, raw, unfiltered. Bragg’s is good)

  • 2 Tbsp filtered water (or to desired consistency)

  • 1-2 Tbsp Non-Fortified Nutritional Yeast (I use Sari Foods brand)

  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric. (organic)

    • Turmeric has a lot of health benefits.21  Chief among them being its ability to reduce inflammation. If you’ve never used it in cooking before, you may be surprised at its somewhat pungent, bitter flavor. Star with a smaller amount (ie. 1/2 tsp) and work your way up (I like about 1 tbsp). Avoid getting it on countertops and clothes as it will stain.

  • Stain-resistant container for shaking (turmeric stains everything!)

  • Optional: Blend in a chunk of avocado for a creamier texture


How to make it:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a mason jar and shake to combine until smooth. Add all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. You could also add to a mini blender and process until smooth.

  2. If the dressing seems too thick, you can add a little more water, 1 Tablespoon at a time.

  3. Pour over your bone-healthy salad and enjoy!


Bone Coach | bone healthy salad


Use this as a template to build your own bone-healthy salads. Experiment with different veggies, citrus fruits, salad dressings, protein options and more.



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Medical Disclaimer

The information shared above is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical or nutrition therapy advice; it does not diagnose, treat or cure any disease, condition; it is not to be used as a replacement or substitute for medical advice provided by physicians and trained medical professionals. If you are under the care of a healthcare professional or are currently using prescription medications, you should discuss any dietary and lifestyle changes or potential dietary supplements use with your doctor. You should not discontinue any prescription medications without first consulting your doctor.