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Is Your ‘Healthy’ Salad Actually Healthy?

Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem

2 min read

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When people decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle, the first thing they think about changing is their diet. Even though most people eliminate sweet and fried food from their diet when they decide to eat clean, they often overlook the seemingly healthy food items that are actually silently sabotaging their health. One such food is a salad. This is particularly true about salads you get at restaurants. They are often doused with unhealthy dressings and contain additives such as taco chips and other fried ingredients. Here are a few things you should avoid when making or ordering a healthy salad:

1- Croutons:

Croutons are thin slices of stale bread. They are often sauteed and seasoned to enhance flavor. Croutons are high in empty calories that contain refined carbs. They may also be high in sodium. They are full of artificial ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, preservatives, and artificial flavors. Croutons are also often fried, making them significantly more unhealthy due to the added oil and since most people add multiple croutons to their salads, it has a pretty large impact. Instead of topping your salad with croutons, try replacing them with fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, raw broccoli, baby carrots, or alternatively, nuts.

2- Creamy Dressings:

Even though dressings like Caesar, creamy Italian, ranch, and blue cheese can make your salad more palatable, they are one of the worst things you can add to your salad. They contain nearly 200 calories per serving, out of which 180 come from fat. Most people usually add two to three servings of dressings to their salad which totally defeats the purpose of healthy eating. Even low fat creamy dressings are not good for you since many of them use sugar to substitute the fat and they can still have around 60-80 calories per serving. Go for homemade dressings such as light vinaigrette instead of these unhealthy dressings.

3- Crispy Chicken:

Adding a protein source to your salad can make it healthier so long as it isn’t deep fried. Crispy chicken isn’t just high in calories, it also contains bad fats because it is deep fried. Frying the chicken also makes it much harder for the body to process, leading to a number of different health problems such as cardiovascular diseases. Even chicken that is fried in ‘healthy oil’ is bad for you and should be avoided. Go for grilled chicken instead of crispy fried chicken the next time you want a truly healthy salad.

4- Cheese:

One cup of feta cheese contains 396 calories and other cheeses such as cheddar and Parmesan are even higher in calories. Adding cheese to your salad can increase its calorie count drastically and make it as fattening as a burger. Moreover, the cheeses added to salads are often highly processed. This means they contain artificial flavors, salt, and artificial coloring. It is also full of sodium, making it especially bad for people with high blood pressure. It is ok to use a little cheese in your salad as long as you use it sparingly.

5- Iceberg Lettuce:

Iceberg lettuce is not unhealthy per se, but it hardly contains any nutrients so it isn’t that healthy either. It is almost entirely just water so really it is just taking the place of a leaf that could be significantly healthier. You can instead go for green leaf, red leaf, romaine lettuce, or spinach to make your salad more nutritious.

6- Glazed Nuts:

Although nuts have the potential to be very healthy since they are low in calories and full of nutrietns, but glazing them negates most of that. If the nuts are kettle cooked or glazed with sugar the amount of calories in them shoot up from 10 to 30 per serving.

7- Olive Oil:

People often think that olive oil is one of the healthiest dressings you can add to your salad, but that may not entirely be true. It entirely depends on how much oil you add as olive oil is actually pretty high in calories. It has around 88 calories per serving and people often add more than 2 tablespoons to their salads, adding more than a 100 calories to the meal.

Restaurant salads are the queen of unhealthy foods. You could also be making homemade salads less nutritious if you add these unhealthy ingredients. Try to be more mindful of these culprits the next time you decide to eat a salad to make sure you are indeed eating a healthy meal and not just an assortment of unhealthy ingredients with a little lettuce.

You can consult a nutritionist to find out which foods to include in your diet. You can find and book an appointment with top Nutritionist in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem - Author Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem is a Nutritionist practicing in Lahore. Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem has the following degrees: BSc. (Home Economics), MSc. (Food And Nutrition), PGDD, M.Phil (Public Health) and has 5 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Ms. Qurat Ul Ain Aleem by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button.
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