Salad can both be enjoyed as an appetizer or as the last course of a meal. Read on to know about the proper time to eat the salad.

In a formal dining situation, most of us are served with a dressed salad before we get to enjoy the main course. Thinking logically, it does make sense to fill up our belly with roughage before eating a hearty meal, but in many cultures, salad is enjoyed after the main course as it is believed to initiate proper digestion of the food.

So, it has been an ongoing debate to know whether to eat a salad before, during, or after eating the main course.

In the United States, diners usually start their meal with a salad or a soup followed by the appetizer, entrée, and a dessert. There have been studies that support the role of eating a salad before a meal to reduce calorie intake and prevent overeating.

In the French formal dining setup, diners consume green salad after the main meal for it to assist in digestion. It is believed that because salad is rich in fiber, it will aid in the digestion of the food that is eaten before and also to cleanse the palate before enjoying the dessert. The salad served in France, is usually dressed only with vinaigrette. However, since recent the French have now started to eat their salad as a main course along with vegetables and proteins.

The Italian population serves salad either along with the entrée of after. The Italian meals usually include warm vegetable preparations followed by cold salads. The traditional Italian meal consists of small food courses where salad usually follows after the main dish is served. Italians enjoy their salads topped with vinegar and olive oil. It is believed that if the salad is served after serving the main course it assists in digestion and prepares the palate for wine.

In China, salad isn’t a part of the meal course and typically some raw or cooked vegetable preparations are served as a meal starter.

In India, the Ayurveda belief is to consume salad after serving the entrée to enhance digestion. According to the Ayurveda belief raw food is difficult to digest and should not be mixed with cooked food. This is why raw salads are eaten about 20 minutes before serving the main meal.

So, the timing of consuming salad as a food course is generally driven by cultural influence rather than a nutritional rule. This means consuming salad can benefit our health as long as one is consuming enough of the fibrous meal.