Recipes for Managing Side Effects Series: Constipation
This tasty spinach salad is filled with fruits, veggies, legumes, and seeds that contain important phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and tons of fiber. The recipe includes a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but feel free to use a different dressing of your choice! Individual ingredients can also be swapped out for other high-fiber fruits and veggies such as blueberries, pears, avocado, and kale. This salad is not only easy to prepare and makes for a perfect refreshing lunch, but it will also help you hit your recommended daily fiber intake!
Nutritional Content and Health Benefits
Constipation is a symptom that is often reported by cancer patients as having a major impact on their quality of life [i]. A diet high in fiber helps to regulate the frequency and consistency of bowel movements. An intake of 25 grams of fiber per day has been shown to increase stool frequency, which helps to relieve constipation [ii]. This recipe has a whopping 15 grams of fiber, which is a significant portion of the recommended daily fiber intake for adult men (38 grams/day) and women (25 grams/day) [iii].
While this salad is a great recipe to increase fiber intake and help ease constipation, always be sure to drink lots of fluids throughout the day to supplement the effect of fiber. Studies show that the benefits of a high-fiber diet are enhanced by increasing fluid intake to at least 1.5-2 liters per day [ii]. A good rule of thumb is to drink eight cups of water each day.
High-Fiber Spinach Salad
Yield: 1 serving
For the Salad
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- ½ small apple (diced)
- ½ cup strawberries (sliced)
- ½ cup chickpeas
- ½ tablespoon flaxseed
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Dash of honey and Dijon mustard
- 1/8 shallot (minced)
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Dressing
- Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and shallots into a bowl
- Whisk together ingredients until thoroughly combined
- Add salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad
- Wash and chop/dice all fruits and veggies, and rinse chickpeas
- Combine ingredients in a large bowl, sprinkle flaxseed and pour dressing on top of the salad
- Toss and enjoy!
For more tips on managing constipation, check out this post.
[i] Gervais C, Ducrotté P, Piche T, Di Palma M, Jovenin N, Scotté F. Constipation et cancer: stratégies actuelles [Constipation and cancer: Current strategies]. Bull Cancer. 2016;103(9):794-804. doi:10.1016/j.bulcan.2016.05.010
[ii] Anti M, Pignataro G, Armuzzi A, et al. Water supplementation enhances the effect of high-fiber diet on stool frequency and laxative consumption in adult patients with functional constipation. Hepatogastroenterology. 1998;45(21):727-732.
[iii] Institute of Medicine (US) Subcommittee on Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes; Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. DRI Dietary Reference Intakes: Applications in Dietary Assessment. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000.