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salad nutrition

Salad ingredients that are not as healthy as you think

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Salads are automatically associated with ‘healthy-eating’, and while it is good to eat your greens, some choices that salad-eaters make can cause the calories in their meal to skyrocket.

Here are some unhealthy ingredients that could make eating salads worse than gobbling a Big Mac.

saladPhoto: Shutterstock

Thousand Island

The infamous, fat-laden salad dressing, Thousand Island sauce is the biggest mistake you can make if you’re looking to cut calories. It’s not just Thousand Island dressing you should be avoiding either, because any similar cream-based dressing like Ranch, Caesar, Blue Cheese, and Honey Mustard will pile on the calories as well.

As such, when reading the labels of salad dressing, don’t be fooled by the terms “low fat” and “natural”,  as these could nevertheless contain high amounts of sugar, salt and other unhealthy ingredients. To avoid skyrocketing your calorie intake, we suggest a healthier alternative of using vinaigrette and a dash of olive oil.


It is common to add some protein into your salad, but do steer clear from processed food items like ham or canned tuna, which are high in sodium. Egg salad is not a good idea either as it is usually made with high-calorie mayonnaise.  A good substitute would be to add grilled chicken breast meat or hard-boiled egg.


You might be looking for that crunch in your salad, but croutons, tortilla strips, and anything fried are simply add-ons that are high in sodium and calories. These deceptive little bites can end up containing as much salt as a packet of potato chips. If you must have croutons in your salad, opt for a handful of whole-wheat or whole-grain croutons.

saladPhoto: Shutterstock


Dried Cranberries

Dried cranberries and other forms of dried fruit, like raisins, dates, or currants can add an unnecessary amount of sugar into your salad. Hence, the recommended serving sizes for these dried fruit are typically much smaller than the amounts being consumed.  Instead of these dried fruit, opt for fresh fruit, cut into small cubes, which could add a little sweetness to your greens.


Olives might seem harmless, but dietitians have pointed out that the ones regularly tossed in salads are pickled, and therefore packed with sodium. Other similar salty, pickled salad partners to avoid are spicy peppers and pickled cucumbers.  If you are looking for something with an interesting texture, try hearts of palm, jicama, and artichokes instead.

saladPhoto: Shutterstock

Bonus: Iceberg lettuce

Iceberg lettuce is not unhealthy, but it has very little nutritional value. Go for leafy vegetables like romaine lettuce, spinach or kale. These are packed with more nutrients than your typical Iceberg.

Romaine is rich in Vitamin A and K. Vitamin A is important for your eyesight and immune system, while Vitamin K is important in the blood-clotting process, and the regulation of insulin. Additionally, if you’re having a salad because you’re looking to cut down on your carbohydrate intake, you should avoid corn and peas, which are heavy in carbs.


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