Health & Fitness

By Jasmin Guleria

The most frustrating part of trying to eat healthy is that sometimes, even when you think you’re making good nutritious choices, you’re unknowingly derailing your diet, and with salads, the quintessential health food for dieters, this issue comes up a lot!

Read on for our Top Six Salad Do’s and Don’ts that will help you add a little more nutrient-fighting punch (and flavor!) to this meal-time staple.

Do add beans, egg whites, grilled or steamed fish, or chicken to your salad for a dose of protein. Protein keeps you full longer, feeds muscles, and converts a salad from a side dish into a hearty meal.

(This Popcorn Chicken Salad will clog your arteries much before it whittles your waistline!)

Don’t get salads with fried proteins! Watch out for words like ‘battered’, ‘fried’ or ‘sautéed’ because these words equal saturated fat, which equals high cholesterol, bad skin, and a wider waistline.

Do add more greens. The greener your salad the more vitamins, minerals and fiber you’ll get. Try adding spinach or kale to romaine for a twist and a boost of Vitamins C, E, and K.

Don’t use iceberg lettuce – it’s void of nutrients, 0% filling, and you’re better off just drinking water.

Do dress lightly. Opt for clear-colored dressings, heart-healthy olive oil and vinegar, or just a squeeze of lemon or lime for a refreshing light twist to your salad. Never douse your salad with dressing, but have it on the side and use it as a dip, you’ll save countless calories.

Don’t touch those white and creamy ranch, blue cheese, or creamy Italian dressings!! These are full of cream and fat. Just imagine that dressing being poured onto your heart, clogging up your arteries. Hopefully this image will help you steer clear of these heart-killing options!

Do sprinkle your salad with some unsalted nuts. Sliced almonds or chopped walnuts will add an extra crunch to your salad that keeps it interesting and gives you a dose of healthy fats.

Don’t add croutons! These waste of calories carb-filled buttery critters add nothing to your meal except fat and excess calories

Do add fresh fruit like green apples, strawberries, or watermelon to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Don’t use canned fruit unless it’s canned in fresh water. Canned fruits are often packaged in sugary syrup, giving you a heavy unnecessary dose of sugar. Avoid at all costs and if you’re ordering a salad at a menu, confirm that your fruit is fresh.

Do experiment with different vegetables. For example, edamame is not just something to munch on with your sushi. A cup of these pea-like pods are packed with 11 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Other interesting vegetables to try: Roasted eggplant, squash, and bell peppers add a great flavor and different texture to any salad, as do beets, cauliflower, and avocados.

Don’t marinate your veggies! A lot of restaurants and salad bars offer roasted vegetables that have been marinated in heavy-duty oils- avoid these at all costs! Oil is good in moderation, but veggies soaking with the stuff is a waste of a nutritious salad add-in. Why ruin the fresh taste of a good vegetable by drenching it in greasy fatty oil? I will never understand this concept – and you should never add it to your salad selection!

Originally published April 2009
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