If you’ve been eating salads non-stop but the scale hasn’t budged, you might want to reevaluate the salad dressing you’re using. While you’re doing the right thing by stocking up on veggies, the dressing you choose—and the amount you use—can play a large role in whether or not your salad is actually good for you and your waistline.
Picking out a dressing can be overwhelming. You’re faced with a ton of options staring back at you at the grocery store, all claiming to be fat-free, sugar-free, and everything in between. So what’s a salad lover to do? Before you dress your next salad, use this list to help differentiate between the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers.’
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Winners To Choose
See-through dressings. If you can see through the dressing, it’s typically an indication that it’s made with oil and not a creamy variety. Oil-based dressings, such as those made with olive oil, contain healthy monounsaturated fats which have been shown to help raise healthy HDL cholesterol levels while lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels.
In addition, diets rich in monounsaturated fats have been shown to help reduce dangerous belly fat, according to research. When choosing a commercial salad dressing, the first three ingredients should be oil, water, and vinegar. This indicates that the salad dressing does not contain a large amount of added sugars and salt. In addition, look down the list of ingredients. The best choices will contain ingredients that list natural herbs and spices and avoid large amounts of additives and preservatives that you can’t recognize or pronounce. Some healthy options: Newman’s Own, Annie’s Naturals, and Spectrum Organics.
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Homemade varieties. The best bet for a salad dressing is to make your own. Simply mix together olive oil, your favorite vinegar, and a blend of seasonings and spices (such as pepper, garlic, dill, oregano, and rosemary) for a delicious salad topping. Homemade dressings allow you to provide a fantastic flavor to your salad without added preservatives, sodium, or sugars. Tip: Whether you’re drizzling a store-bought or homemade dressing on your salad, limit the amount to two tablespoons.
Easy Homemade Salad Dressing Recipe
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbs mustard
Losers To Avoid
Fat-free dressings. You may be scratching your head since a fat-free option seems like a great way to save on calories, but that’s not always the case. First of all, fat can be good—especially when it’s the right type of fat. Fat coming from healthy oils, like olive oil which is found in many salad dressings, not only provides you with a feeling of fullness, but it also helps you absorb the nutrients found in many of the vegetables you’re adding to your salad.
On the other hand, fat-free salad dressings are often overly processed and contain a high amount of sugar and salt. Due to the high sugar content, these dressings may have just as many calories as regular dressings, but don’t provide you with the same feeling of fullness. Tip: You’re better off using a small amount of oil-based dressing over a fat-free option. If you really want a fat-free, low calorie option to flavor your salad, dress it with just vinegar instead.
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Creamy dressings. Sure they taste good, but creamy dressings are loaded with calories and fat—and not the good type of fat you find in oil-based dressings. Although the calorie content of these dressings can be very similar to oil-based dressings, they contain a high level of saturated fat, an unhealthy fat that can clog arteries and raise LDL cholesterol levels. If you love these dressings, save them for a special treat and always order them on the side so you can control the portions.
Beware Of Sugar-Free Dressings
Sugar-free dressings fall into a bit of a gray area. They can be dressings that contain just oil, vinegar, and seasonings (making them a healthy choice), or they may also be ones that are creamy and contain a large amount of unhealthy, saturated fat. If you’re choosing a sugar-free dressing, examine the ingredients and food labels carefully. Tip: Sugar-free dressings that contain less than 1 gram of saturated fat and less than 75mg of sodium per serving are the best choice.