More Veggies, More Health? The Pros And Cons Of Eating Salads

March 18, 2024

Contents from this article were shared in an article published in HerZindagi Hindi on 06.04.2023 featuring Mugdha. This article was written to serve as input for the same following a query from HerZindagi.

Plant foods contain many beneficial compounds like antioxidants, phytonutrients, and polyphenols owing to which they offer many health benefits. Including a diversity of plant fibers in the diet has also been shown to promote a healthy diverse gut microbiome which is key to having good gut health and a robust immune system.However, while the benefits of plant-based foods are widely known , it is also important to note their potential negative effects, which are rarely discussed.  It also contains potentially harmful agents like plant toxins, antinutrients, and enzyme inhibitors that can negatively impact our health including compounds like oxalates, gluten, lectins, etc. 

A lot of our traditional food preparation methods such as soaking, fermenting, de-husking, and cooking help to reduce the antinutrient content to some degree. But choosing your foods wisely and limiting high-antinutrient items like grains, legumes, seeds, etc. is more important to avoid antinutrient content. Fruits, in particular, are the safest plant-based foods to eat in this context since they contain the least antinutrient content. This is because these are usually the parts of the plant that people want to  consume. While other parts like leaves and stems are protected by plant defense chemicals. 

Secondly, adding too much fiber can also aggravate pre-existing gut issues, if any. That's why excessive plant fibre consumption frequently results in problems like bloating, diarrhea, and persistent pain.Owing to the above-mentioned issues, a lot of people with chronic health conditions, especially ones driven by gut issues and autoimmune conditions, find a lot of relief by switching to a fully carnivore diet i.e. a diet consisting only or mostly of animal-based foods such as meat, organs, eggs, bone broth etc.

So then should you eat salad? This once again is highly dependent on bio individuality i.e. varying from person to person. As previously stated, people with chronic health disorders , especially gut issues should be mindful of consuming vegetables. If you’ve been suffering from chronic health conditions that have not improved despite making positive health changes, you should try to experiment with cutting out plant foods to see how they affect you.  If you have gut and digestive issues, you would most likely benefit by reducing  fiber intake. 

The majority of people though should not have issues with consuming moderate amounts of plant foods including vegetables and you may continue to do so if you don’t experience issues. But you should still be mindful about minimizing  the intake of plant antinutrients through the strategies discussed above. When eating salads people also tend to eat raw vegetables which can be a problem. It is generally recommended to lightly cook or steam most vegetables to reduce antinutrients.


Lastly, pesticides and other chemicals used in industrial farming practices are a significant problem with plant foods today. It is thus highly recommended to source your produce from a reputable organic foods supplier. It’s also important to remember that the main benefits offered by plant foods are mostly supplementary in nature, which means  that plant compounds like antioxidants and polyphenols etc can help to cleanse and detox the system and reduce oxidative stress. But in order to get your essential nutrients you should still rely on animal foods and they should make up the key part of your diet.

As far as the timing of your salad consumption and the question of whether you can consume it with your main meals goes, you can absolutely do so without any problem. Adding vegetables helps to add variety to your meals and makes them more enjoyable. Vegetables can also be used as a carrier for healthy fats like ghee and coconut oil, by cooking them  in these fats.

Mugdha Pradhan
Functional Nutritionist

With a Master’s degree in nutrition and two decades’ experience in health and wellness, Mugdha has successfully healed many people at iThrive (Previously ThriveFNC) since 2017. Mugdha herself was struggling with finding solutions when her health took a nosedive. With modern principles of functional medicine and ancient wisdom about food, paired with spirituality, she beat several chronic illnesses.

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