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Myth: Salad is always the healthiest option

TRUTH:  Sadly, this is a myth.  Come on, we’re Americans!  And as Americans, we can make anything unhealthy – we started the fast food industry, we take the fiber out of everything, and I know more than one restaurant that will deep fry desserts.  There are plenty of unhealthy options out there and salad can be one of them.

Here are what I think to be the 5 unhealthiest salad ingredients: iceberg lettuce, deep fried meat, cheese, croutons, and dressing.  That is almost the exact offering of a fast food chain’s Bacon Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken.  The only thing missing are the croutons, but they’re sold separately.  And according to their website, the nutritional breakdown is: 620 calories, 40 grams of fat, and 1,370 mg of sodium – which is average.  And I don’t know if you’ve seen the serving size, but it ain’t big.  I should admit that they use ‘mixed greens’ for salads, but that means about 80% iceberg and 20% actual greens.  So, maybe 4-5 leaves.

Salad dressings can be the downfall of an otherwise perfectly healthy salad.  Always ask for your dressing on the side and dip your fork in the dressing (to coat, don’t scoop) before the salad.  You’ll still get the taste of the dressing, without tons of calories.  If you are going to pour dressing on top, don’t pour it from a gravy boat (yes, I’ve been served dressing in gravy boats). For that matter, don’t even serve gravy from a gravy boat. Use 1-2 large spoonfuls (1-2 tablespoons) and that’s it!

None of this should suggest that salads can’t be healthy – some salads are incredibly healthy.  Add more vegetables or fruits, healthy fats (like nuts or seeds), and more grilled or broiled lean meats.

BOTTOM LINE: The quality of a salad depends on the ingredients you put in.  Add foods with a lot of fiber (like beans) or vegetables to help you feel full for a longer period of time.  When you can, make your own salad dressing but if you’re going to use store-bought, use it in moderation.  It’s a condiment, not an ingredient!


  1. Spark Recipes article:
  2. WebMD:


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