Salad. It’s healthy, right? Most people think it is because it includes salad leaves as a base, protein, and veggies on top, and some sort of salad dressing. Let me tell you what. Salad dressing is one of the
unhealthiest items you can put on your food. Moreover, we are so used to a fast-paced lifestyle, this is a food staple that gets overlooked a lot, yet it can be pretty harmful.
Let’s talk about what you need to know about healthy salad dressing, and what gets in the way between that sacred bottle of goodness you pour all over your greens.
What goes in salad dressings:
Oils. Refined, polyunsaturated vegetable oils.
They cause oxidative damage, inflammation, digestive problems, hormonal problems, and such. These are the most popular bases for dressings in the market: canola oil and soybean oil. Since they are heavily processed, they are stripped of any good nutrients in them, cheap to produce, and low-quality oils. You are not cheap, and your body isn’t. Choose the best quality ingredients for yourself.
Sugar and HFCS (High-fructose corn syrup).
Have you ever wondered why low-fat dressing still tastes good? Look at the nutritional information on the label, at carbs specifically. Low-fat products will most likely have high-carbohydrate content. Why? That’s how the companies make up for fat content to keep the decent flavor. What do extra carbs do to you? Nothing good, really, unless you an elite athlete and burn them like crazy. Everything that is unused goes to…fat storage. Yes, muffin tops and chubby cheeks – blame extra carbs combined with unhealthy fats for that.
Preservatives, MSG, “natural flavors” and other alphabet-soup based ingredients.
I have a simple rule with my students: “Can’t read it – can’t eat it”. That’s right. Don’t put in your mouth if you don’t know where it came from. The shelf life of most dressings is…forever. “Natural flavors” is a kind and deceiving name for a bunch of chemicals. In other words, most dressings are stuffed with crappy, low-quality ingredients that a) taste good b) cost very little c) last a long time.
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When you choose to buy a low-fat dressing, remember: low-fat products do not allow vitamins and minerals to get absorbed into your body easily. Most vitamins (A, K and such) need a source of good fat to be transported to your blood cells appropriately.
4. Chemicals and dyes.
Titanium dioxide is one of these ingredients. It is used to make the colors of your dressing pretty…and most likely can cause some stomach irritation. Choose beautiful, colorful, and locally grown vegetables instead, and say goodbye to chemicals and dyes (Red 40, Blue 1, and their buddies).
How can we solve this first world problem and replace not so healthy salad dressing?
10 things you need to know about healthy salad dressing:
1. Choose good oils.
Saturated fat is GOOD for you as long as your carbs are low, and the sources of your cooking/dressing oils are fair. Refer to this guide to learn about what fats are the best for you (hint: cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of them).
2. Read the labels.
Remember “can’t read it, can’t eat it” rule. Choose bottles with the minimum of ingredients, sugar, and extras.
3. Avoid low-fat options.
First of all, low fat isn’t good for you despite all FDA regulations touting how “healthy” it is. Secondly, low fat will mean the carbs are high in most cases, and these carbs will turn into fat fast (unless you train like a crazy person).
4. Shop in the refrigerated area.
There are certain brands that DO take care of us, clean eating people – TesseMae’s is one of them. Check out their dressings in the refrigerated areas of Whole Foods, Earth Fare and such!
5. Avoid sugary dressings.
Seems like more and more people agree that sugar isn’t good for you. It causes chronic disease, inflammation, and weight gain. You can find some delicious and healthy salad dressings without sugar. Do your due diligence, investigate the brands and what they put in your food.
6. Find better versions of your favorite products.
Mark Sisson has recently released “Ranch” dressing he worked so hard on. I can’t wait to try it. TessaeMae’s, Primal Kitchen, and Sir Kensington’s have some awesome substitutes for your favorite dressings – crap-free, nutritious, and tasty!
7. Make your own.
Duh! Because it only takes a few minutes, but when you are the cook – doesn’t it taste great?! Here is a fantastic source for homemade dressings.
8. Bring your own when you eat out or ask for substitutes.
If you are eating out, you are paying for your food and service. Make sure to get what you want and can eat. Most restaurants will kindly accommodate to any of your needs (Burger King probably won’t). Don’t shy away, and ask. Ask for olive oil and balsamic if the restaurants do not carry anything healthy. They should help.
9. Be extra careful with “healthy”, “organic”, “olive oil based” and “all natural”.
Again, read the ingredients list. These extra words often mean nothing useful or good for you if there are additional harmful ingredients that have been added. Make smart choices!
You are a free person, living in the free market. In other words, dare to try new things, get out of your comfort zone and taste them! Try that fermented cucumber pineapple relish. Haha. I just made that up. Don’t be afraid to experiment, my friend.
In a conclusion – enjoy it. While your salad can be healthy if you don’t enjoy it – what’s the point?
What are you using for salad dressings? What are your favorites?
Have a healthy day,
These aforementioned statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This guide is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with a medical professional if you have any questions.
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.