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Beets contain powerful nutrients that help protect against heart disease, birth defects, and cancer, especially colon cancer.
Beets contain powerful nutrients that help protect against heart disease, birth defects, and cancer, especially colon cancer.

Health, Seven Days, Dr. Mao, Food

Dr. Mao’s Wellness Central: Cool Down With Salads This Summer Season

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Jul. 29, 2012, 3:31 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

The long, hot days of summer don’t offer much encouragement for cooking in the kitchen over a hot stove. Instead, why not take advantage of the bounty of local seasonal fruits and veggies and cool yourself down with a fresh salad?

Salads are not only quick and simple to make, but with the right ingredients they can also bring you some serious health benefits. Start by choosing organic, locally-grown produce, which is packed with added nutrients and picked after it has ripened naturally. Studies regularly emerge about the hazardous effects of pesticides and herbicides used on commercial crops: cancer risk, inflammation, and reproductive imbalance, among other dangers. Pick food grown close to home: it’s better for your health, better for the environment, supports your local farmers, and has an unbeatable taste!

One item to note: Eating raw food all the time requires more energy for digestion and tends to put out the digestive fire, so don’t forgo the stove altogether. As you will see below, many of these salads require some cooking as well.

1. Classic Beet Salad

Steam beets and slice into a salad of mixed greens and sliced avocado with a handful of pine nuts and walnuts. If you want to bulk up the salad, add crumbled soft tofu or shredded chicken.

What is this salad doing for you? This is an all-in-one anti-aging salad. Beets contain powerful nutrients that help protect against heart disease, birth defects, and cancer, especially colon cancer. The avocado and pine nuts are healthy fats and walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids, which bring heart health benefits.

2. Cooling Cucumber Salad

Thinly slice cucumbers, removing the peel if you prefer, and toss with red onions. Let this sit for 30 minutes, then top with apple cider vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard.

What is this salad doing for you?

Cucumbers are a cooling food and also a natural diuretic, helping to hydrate you and lower the pressure in your arteries. The vinegar has antiseptic and antibiotic properties and may also help to reverse hardening of the arteries, as well as dissolve gall stones and kidney stones.

3. Tomato Basil Salad

Cook whole cherry or grape tomatoes in olive oil over medium-high heat until they are lightly browned. Cool and then toss with fresh basil. For dressing, combine olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of fresh oregano.

What is this salad doing for you?

Cooking partially breaks down your food, making the nutrients accessible to your body’s systems; for example, lycopene, an essential carotenoid antioxidant that has been found to reduce the risks of heart disease, macular degeneration, as well as prostate and other cancers, is more available in cooked tomatoes than uncooked. Basil is filled with luteolin, a bioflavonoid that studies have shown to be the best protection of cell DNA from radiation.

4. Fennel and Dried Plum Salad

Combine sliced fennel, sautéed or raw, and dried plums on a plate. Drizzle with a ginger vinaigrette. (Olive oil, vinegar, and minced ginger, if you are making it yourself).

What is this salad doing for you?

This salad soothes digestion and supports weight loss. Fennel helps digestion in two ways: first, it stimulates the production of gastric juices, and second, it calms the nervous system by regulating the action of the muscles that line the intestine. Packed with vitamin C and essential minerals like potassium and magnesium, dried plums contain a perfectly balanced proportion of soluble and insoluble fibers, ensuring bowel regularity and preventing insulin resistance – making them a great ingredient for weight management.

If weight loss is one of your goals, you may benefit from the herbal formulation B-Slim, a nutrient-rich dietary supplement designed to be part of a sensible overall weight management program.

5. Asian Carrot Salad

Combine shredded carrots, green onion, and sprouts (alfalfa, red clover, daikon radish, and bean sprouts will all work). Dress with sesame oil and rice vinegar. Then sprinkle sesame seeds over the top. For extra kick, add a small amount of grated ginger or chili pepper.

What is this salad doing for you?

Carrots are antioxidant-rich foods filled with beta-carotene and beneficial to eye health. Sprouts are packed with nutrients that carry a bounty of health benefits. And sesame oil, the oil most commonly consumed by Chinese centenarians, is rich in phytic acid, the antioxidant that may prevent cancer. Studies have also indicated that one variety of sesame oil, called lignan sesamin, radically reduced cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and liver of rats.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit

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