Secrets to choosing healthy salad dressings

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Secrets to choosing healthy salad dressings

Very few of us actually like eating a salad without dressing.  But how to choose a healthy salad dressing is easier said than done. Depending on what you choose to add the final touch to a leafy green salad, the dressing can either make it super healthy or super disastrous covering your salad greens with too much fat, sugar and extra calories.

Creating a nutritious salad plate with a bed of spinach or kale leaves topped with tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, or any other salad options makes for a healthy meal loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But it’s the not-as-nutritious extras of bacon bits, cheese, croutons and then pouring on the salad dressing, that may add significant unhealthy components.

Salad dressings are sort of like the frosting on a cake – it adds delicious flavors to bring out the best in your plate full of vegetables. But two tablespoons of salad dressings – considered a standard serving size – can add up quickly to about 170 calories.  Just those extra calories alone are already one-quarter of a day’s sodium, and one-and-a-half fast food cheeseburger’s worth of fat to the salad. Many of us typically are adding more than just 2 tablespoons of salad dressings to our salad plates.

Should you skip salad dressing altogether?  The answer thankfully is no. Salad dressings, when chosen carefully, not only provide delicious flavor but many benefits. Vitamins such as A and K, found abundantly in leafy greens and other vegetables, are fat-soluble vitamins.  To maximize their absorption in the body, they need to be eaten along with foods containing fat and salad dressings are your answer.  Salad dressings primary ingredient is oil, a fat that can help your body absorb those important vitamins of A and K found in many vegetables. If you skip putting salad dressing on your salad and eat it without any source of fat, you will lose out on your body’s ability to absorb those key nutrients.

Steps on choosing a healthy salad dressing

·      Drizzle don’t drench – Even if you pick a healthy salad dressing, using too much will load your salad with calories.  To help prevent that, grab your measuring spoons and actually measure out the standard serving size for salad dressings of 2 tablespoons. You may be surprised how much less dressing that is compared to what you usually have. Another trick helping to go easy on the pour is to keep the dressing on the side in a small bowl, and dip each bite of your salad into it to help control how much you eat.

 

·      Skip creamy salad dressings – Oil and vinegar-based dressings usually offer less fat and calories than cream-based dressings.  If the vinegar-style is not your thing, try using a smaller serving size.

 ·      Make your own salad dressing – The best way to ensure you are having a healthy dressing is to make it yourself. This puts you in charge of controlling the ingredients.  Here are recipes of delicious healthy salad dressings to try.

·      The first three ingredients should be oil, water, and some kind of vinegar – These three ingredients make the base of a good salad dressing and is what makes a dressing a healthy choice. Vinegar and water are calorie-free and oil like olive oil, adds a healthy fat. Check on the Nutrition Facts Label and choose a dressing with no more than 0.5 grams of saturated fat per serving.  Look for salad dressings that have listed in the ingredients herbs and spices to add in an extra punch of nutrients.  

·      Avoid fat free dressings – As addressed earlier in the article, you actually want to use a salad dressing with fat in it. Fat helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamins found in certain vegetables. Fat also helps slow the digestion process keeping you feeling fuller longer. While fat free dressings may have less calories than dressings with fat, when fat is removed, the ingredient used to replace it is almost always sugar. Sugar is an empty calorie food with little if any nutritional value.  Stick with a dressing made from olive oil or canola oil for the healthiest dressings on the market.