Not Every Salad Is Healthy

Written by: Damijana Prese─Źnik, M. Sc. in Nutrition

When someone says: "I only ate salad for dinner last night," we think of a light meal, containing lettuce and other green leafs, maybe some crunchy slices of pepper, cucumber or tomato, garlic or onions, a light dressing and a pinch of salt. Sure, that would be a healthy and light salad. Especially if main ingredients came from our garden and were used fresh.

But not all salads are. We like to add different unhealthy fats to our bowls full of vegetables to enhance the taste. Also the salt makes food tastier, but too much salt might increase sodium in our blood too much. And then we have to add some eggs, fried meat, and simple carbs, as well we are too generous with dressings, made of mayonnaise, cream, cheese, oil, and also sugar.

Why Some Salads Are Bad for Your Body

Balance is a center of nutrition. And we can make any dish unbalanced, even salad. Do you like to put mayo in your dressing? Are you all about the fried pieces of meat or maybe croutons on top of it? It's O.K. to add some, but sometimes we end up eating fried chicken with bread and dressing with some green leaves. On the other hand, only eating a bowl of fat-free veggies wouldn't be really smart, because with no healthy fats at all, our body wouldn't be able to use vitamins A, D, E, and K. So don't go to extremes. An example of a lovely light dinner, with low GI and GL, is lettuce, combined with a small sliced tomato, a grilled salmon fillet and some olive oil.

But now, let's see which salads are really not good for you and why. First are salads with heavy dressings. These dressings are usually full of unhealthy fats and can easily raise your cholesterol. Typical examples are Caesar Salad or Cobb Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing. But you can improve them by keeping eye on the dressing ingredients (use yogurt instead of cream or mayonnaise) and reduce the amount of dressing to one tablespoon per two cups of salad. Also, vinegar or some citrus juice adds great sour taste and is really healthy, especially in comparison to other usual dressings.

The heavy dressings are main source of unhealthiness in the salads, but there are some more that we should be aware of. I hope that you know that potato, macaroni, and French salad are not really salads. They are actually pieces of cooked carbs, mixed with lots of heavy dressings. Is there a way to make them healthier? Yes! Eat them as rarely as possible. A special prize also goes to salads with fried ingredients. Crispy chicken, fried noodles and eggs, sticky fingers, crunchy onion rings, fried cheese are still saturated with oil as any other fried foods. Besides that they are probably heavily salted and there is a big chance they contain a lot of sodium, especially if they are processed.

What I wanted to let you know by this advice was that just because you call dish a salad, it doesn't mean it is healthy. Salad, as well as any other meal, should be balanced. Also, I am not saying you should never indulge with some fried pieces or a little mayo dressing on your salad. Just make sure to add a little less fat to other daily meals. And remember, it's not only what we eat, but also, where, how, and who we eat with. Bon appetite!