Healthy Salads vs. Unhealthy Salads

General Press Releases Tuesday September 12, 2017 15:53
Bangkok--12 Sep--Francom Asia
Healthy Salads vs. Unhealthy SaladsMixed greens make a good base for salads.
A salad often seems like a healthy choice, but many are loaded with high calorie ingredients.

When we think of a salad, we often picture a beautiful bowl of leafy greens tossed with other colorful veggies like orange carrots, purple onions, bright red tomatoes and yellow bell peppers. A salad like that is the picture of health. But there's an unhealthy side to salad, too. We use the term salad so loosely now that we call almost anything tossed together in a bowl a salad, as long as there's something coating it, flavoring it or holding it together.

There are some salads on restaurant menus without a veggie in sight—just an overload of meat, cheese and heavy dressing. Some salads start out with good intentions, in the form of leafy greens and mixed veggies. But then they're loaded down with crispy noodles, fried chicken strips, cheese or bacon. And if you were to eat at your favorite restaurant with a buffet salad bar, chances are you'll go for the standard cream dressing that is delicious, although on the sweet side.

Salads Can Have More Calories and Fat than a Cheeseburger

The problem with many salads is that they're loaded down with fat, so it helps to know where all that fat is coming from. Here are some great tips from Susan Bowerman, Director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife Nutrition, on choosing a salad that can be both delicious and nutritious:

• Ditch the fatty proteins. When you see the word "crispy," as in crispy chicken strips, it's just a nicer way of saying "fried." So, if you're having a salad with protein in it, look for salads containing chicken, shrimp or fish that's grilled rather than fried. And watch out for other high calorie proteins, too. Foods like sausages or fatty cold cuts often make their way into salads.

• Avoid high fat extras. Many restaurant salads are overloaded with lots of extras that can make the calorie count soar. These fatty calorie bombs include cheese, bacon, fried tortilla strips, crispy fried noodles, onion rings, sour cream and oily croutons.

• Choose dressings carefully and use sparingly. Dressings are one of the quickest ways to undo the nutritional value of a healthy salad. Creamy or cheesy dressings can cost you 75 calories per tablespoon, and many restaurants serve as much as 8 times that amount. And since that's what we're given, many of us assume that's a normal portion. But few of us can, or should, afford the additional calories and fat that a half-cup of creamy dressing adds to the mix. Always order your dressing on the side, and choose lighter vinaigrettes over creamy dressings. Also, try the fork-dip method: dip your fork into your dressing, take a stab at your salad and repeat. You'll get a little taste of dressing with each bite, but you'll be surprised at how little you actually use.

Choosing Salads Wisely

Susan also suggests that when you choose a salad, you should be on the lookout for these high-fat ingredients, and make adjustments accordingly. Most of the time, it's as simple as asking that an ingredient or two be left out. And maybe swap out a creamy dressing for oil-based vinaigrette and having it served on the side. Just a few simple changes can make a huge difference.

A salad with lettuce, grilled chicken, a few spoons of black beans, a dab of guacamole and some salsa can be a healthy choice. And it will probably only cost you about 400 calories. But get your salad fully loaded with creamy dressing and served in a fried tortilla shell, and the calorie count triples to more than 1200.

Similarly, a shredded chicken salad (salad kai) might sound healthy, since it usually includes just greens, and chicken breast. But it's the huge amount of creamy dressing that sends the fat and calorie count soaring. Keep your dressing portion to around a tablespoon, and you're looking at a reasonable number of calories. For example, a serving of Caesar salad contains bacon, cheese and croutons, so be aware of the calorie count. If you eat the salad as the restaurant serves it, you'd be eating more than 1000 calories. That's the fat equivalent of a huge slice of cheesecake and large fries.

"When it comes to choosing a salad, the bottom line is this: just because a dish is called a salad, doesn't automatically make it healthy. So, don't let the word salad sway you. When making your choice, pay a little less attention to what it's called and a lot more attention to what's in it," concludes Susan.

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