Is My Salad Really Healthy?

By Megan Sapelak

So you started your new healthy eating regime and decided to go with a salad instead of that burger you were craving. Congrats! You picked the healthier option, and that’s a great start. But when it comes down to it, was your choice really healthier than the latter? While many think that choosing a salad is automatically a healthier option, it’s actually the ingredients of a salad that make or break it’s nutritional and caloric value. Depending on which ingredients you choose to put on your salad, it is possible that your salad could end up being just as unhealthy as that burger you turned down. When considering making or ordering a salad, consider trading some common ingredients for even more nutritional ones!

Wait, What!?

According to Eat This, Not That, Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad has a nutritional breakdown that is surprisingly close to that of Wendy’s Triple Baconator.

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad: 1,240 calories, 77 grams fat, 2,000 mg sodium

Wendy’s Triple Baconator: 1,350 calories, 90 grams fat, 2,780 mg sodium

GREENS

Best Picks: Spinach, arugula, kale, spring mix

Skip: Iceberg lettuce, Romaine

Check out the article in July/August 2020 for a full breakdown of nutritional greens!

PROTEIN

Best Picks: Hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, beans/legumes, quinoa

Skip: Fried foods, bacon, processed deli meats, ground beef

CHEESE

Best Picks: Feta, cottage cheese, mozzarella

Skip: Cheddar, bleu cheese, goat cheese

EXTRAS

Best Picks: Cucumber, broccoli, peppers, carrots, tomato, fruit, avocado, seeds, nuts, beets, sweet potato

Skip: Croutons, tortilla chips, wontons, candied nuts, dried fruit

LET’S TALK DRESSING

Harvard Health suggests looking for dressings with low values of saturated fat, sodium and sugar.
Recommended amount: 2 tbsp

Best Picks: Fresh salsa, Greek yogurt, olive oil, vinegar

Skip: Ranch, barbecue, bleu cheese, honey mustard, Caesar

NUTRITION VS. CALORIES

Just because foods are low-calorie, doesn’t make them “healthy.” When considering ingredients for your salad (or any other meals) remember to think nutrition first!

Stockpile your meals with foods that are filled with vitamins, protein, healthy fats and smart carbs!

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