You’ve heard to be careful about your dressing when it comes to choosing a salad off the menu, but there are other ingredients that can diminish the health benefits of your salad.
Here’s a list of 6 ingredients to leave off your healthy salad:
Croutons from a package are typically made using white, refined carbohydrate bread, are high in sodium and dipped in (often hydrogenated) oil to make them crunchy. The seasoning that is added is highly processed as well, leaving you with a crunchy element that is certainly not a healthy element. The best solution? Make them yourself! Using whole grain bread that is a day or two old, slice into cubes and place in the oven at 350 degrees to toast for 10-15 minutes. Leave out on the counter to cool and crisp up and you will have delicious, homemade croutons that are way healthier than store-bought.
The addition of bacon to salad allows for a great crunchy, salty element amidst the leaves and vegetables. And while this is desirable, bacon is not the best medium to make it happen. Bacon bits, as you would buy in a container are highly processed and loaded with sodium and have no nutritional value, simply negating all the great benefits of your healthy salad. If you are after something salty, salted nuts are a better choice and they satisfy the crunchy element as well, as does raw carrot slices or other raw veggies. If you just can’t pass on the bacon however, opt to cook the bacon yourself.
When you candy something, such as nuts or fruit, you cook it in sugar. The idea is that the nuts get covered in a sugary coating, adding extra crunch and sweetness to your dish. While this may make sense in a dessert, adding candied nuts to your salad simply negates the benefits of the nuts as they are coated in sugar. Pass on the candied nuts and opt for raw nuts instead, such as walnuts and almonds. Nuts are a good source of protein and healthy fat and will help keep you full and satisfied after your meal.
Who can ever practice restraint when it comes to sprinkling on cheese? The issue with cheese is more related to the portion control, and the tendency to consume it in excess. Furthermore, our digestive systems do not do well at digesting dairy when combined with other proteins such as if you put chicken or turkey on your salad, and this can cause gas bloating and indigestion. If you are going to add cheese, be sure to measure it out and stick to a portioned amount, and be aware of symptoms within your gut if you experience them, as they may be an indicator of an inability to digest dairy when combined with certain foods
Dried fruit translates to added sugar. Often, in fruits such as cranberries and blueberries, there is sugar added because these are a little more tart and the sugar helps them maintain their shape when they are dried. As a result, adding dried fruit to your salad, adds more sugar than health benefits and isn’t the best way to get your boost of nutrients. It is better to add fresh seasonal fruit for the little sweet addition, or if you are definitely in the mood for dried fruit, choose options not dried in sugar such as raisins and figs.
You have probably heard that loading your salad with dressing is a really easy way to negate the health benefits of the salad and pack in the fat and calories. Instead of choosing a cream based dressing, make your own using Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and a bit of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, or simply smash up some avocado with lemon and rub it through the salad with your hands. Both of these are healthier alternatives that are high in healthy fats and will give you added benefits, not take away health benefits.