Salads are low in calories and healthy, right? Have you ever wondered why on earth you’re not losing weight when you’re eating salad on a daily basis? Well the culprit may just lie in the dressing! The truth is, not all salad dressings are created equal, nutritionally speaking. There are so many varieties of salad dressing on the market. You can get low-fat or even fat-free, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy. This week, my team and I have prepared some important information on how to dress your salad more healthfully. For other tips on how to build a healthy salad, check out p. 232 in my book, The Wall Street Diet.
So what dressing should you use? There are basically two main types of dressings: creamy and vinaigrette. Many creamy-style dressings are loaded with sour cream, mayonnaise, heavy cream and eggs which can dramatically increase the saturated (or bad) fat content of your dressing.
Take a look at the calorie counts for some of the most popular creamy dressings:
Vinaigrettes, on the other hand, are oil-based and have some type of vinegar in it, which makes it a much healthier option since they are lower in saturated fat. Although I prefer an oil-based dressing (using olive oil or canola oil), it is important to remember that it is still a source of fat and should be used in moderation. Whether you choose a creamy or vinaigrette-based dressing, at the end of the day, it really is the quantity of salad dressing you use on your salad that will contribute to an expanding waistline. Stick to 1-2 tablespoons.
See our top dressing tips below.
- Blue cheese or Roquefort (2 Tbsp) - 152 calories, 3g saturated fat
- Thousand Island (2 Tbsp) - 118 calories, 1.6g saturated fat
- French (2 Tbsp) - 146 calories, 1.8g saturated fat
- Ranch (2 Tbsp) - 148 calories, 4.8g saturated fat
- Beware of Portions – Most salads you eat at restaurants are swimming in dressing which can contribute to hundreds of extra calories. Try to ask for dressing on the side and use a spoon to pour 1-2 spoons’ worth on your salad (about 1-2 tbsp). But know yourself – if you are the type to finish the entire side dressing, it may be better to just get your salad pre-dressed. At home, keep a measuring spoon handy and use it until you are comfortable with eyeballing 1-2 tbsp of dressing
- Avoid: Hidden Valley Ranch with Bacon (140 calories, 14g fat for 2 tbsp)
- Favorite Dressing Recipe: 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and a pinch of dried oregano and pepper to taste
- Favorite Bottle Salad Dressing: Kraft Light Done Right House Italian (53 calories for 2 tbsp)
- Beware of Fat-Free Dressings…a sugar mine! – Most fat-free dressings are not as healthy as you think. If they don’t contain fat in them, there are often laden with sugar and other carbohydrate fillers added for thickness and flavor. Make sure to look at the label and choose dressings with less than 1g of sugar.
- Avoid: Many fat-free raspberry vinaigrettes often have 7-10g of sugar per serving (like Ken’s Fat Free Raspberry Pecan Dressing, which has 10g of sugar for 2 tbsp)
- Favorite Dressing Recipe: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard (you can add some Greek yogurt if you’d like to make it creamier)
- Favorite Bottled Salad Dressing: Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette (1g of sugar for 2 tbsp)
- Beware of Hidden Salt – unbeknownst to most salad eaters, many commercial and homemade dressings are packed with too much sodium. FYI - sodium tends to be a bit higher in ‘light’ dressings than in regular dressings. Try to find one that has less than 300mg of sodium.
- Avoid: Newman’s Own Caesar Dressing boast 420mg of sodium per serving. That’s 18% of your Daily Value (DV) for sodium
- Favorite Dressing Recipe: 1 tbsp of truffle oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, pepper to taste
- Favorite Bottled Salad Dressing: Newman’s Own Greek Vinaigrette (270mg of sodium for 2 tbsp)
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