Is Your Salad Actually Healthy?

Is Your Salad Actually Healthy?

Salads are tricky little dishes. In most cases, they start off healthy and nutritious, but they can easily take a turn down the fattening and high caloric path of a Big Mac if you aren’t careful about the ingredients you select. Keep reading to learn five ways your salad may be fooling you into thinking you’re eating healthily when you’re really not.

  1. Iceberg Lettuce

Did you know that not all types of lettuce are created equal? It’s true! Iceberg lettuce actually offers very little nutrients compared to spinach, kale, red leaf lettuce, and even romaine. A general rule of thumb when choosing greens for your salad is the greener the better. If you skip the iceberg lettuce and opt for greener greens, you will treat yourself to more vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and iron.

  1. Creamy Dressings

Ranch dressing owes its wonderful flavor in large part to its high fat and sodium content. Just two tablespoons add 140 calories to your salad. The vast majority of those calories--130 calories to be exact--all come from fat. Caesar, blue cheese, and Parmesan dressings all fall in this same category. If you don’t want to give up creamy dressings altogether, look for a low-fat, low-sodium version of your favorite one.

  1. Fried Shrimp or Chicken

Adding shrimp or chicken to your salad is an excellent way to get more protein in your diet. But, when it’s breaded and fried, you’re also getting a bunch of extra fat and calories. Keep it lean by choosing grilled chicken and shrimp instead.

  1. Cheese

A little cheese on your salad provides a great source of protein and calcium. However, most people pile it on adding unnecessary saturated fat and sodium. If you can’t imagine your salad without cheese, opt for more nutritious types like feta and part-skim mozzarella.

  1. Croutons

Croutons add unnecessary refined carbohydrates to your salad and very little in the way of nutritional value. Not to mention most are high in sodium and can easily run up the calorie count on your salad with one cup adding 133 calories. If you must have croutons, cut your normal portion in half, or better yet, just eat a slice of 100% whole grain bread. You will get more fiber and protein that way and ultimately feel more satisfied.

Healthy Salad Ideas

Looking for ideas for your salad on-the-go? Check out some of the recipes we've featured on the Bentgo Blog:

For daily ideas on nutritious, guilt-free toppings you can add to your salads, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.