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Health and Fitness News

Salad Smart

Think all salads are good for you? Think again. Some salads are far from diet-friendly.

For dieters, one of the favorite go-to meals is a salad. If you skip the pizza, hamburgers, and pasta and eat a salad you can cut back on calories and lose weight, right? Maybe. But not necessarily. Because all salads are created equal.

Yes, many salads are made with nutritious, low-calorie ingredients and contain enough produce, protein, and fiber to make a healthy meal. Other salads, however, contain high-calorie ingredients that don’t help you reach your weight-loss goals.

So the next time you prepare your own salad or are eating out and thinking about ordering a salad, watch out for these weight-boosting ingredients.

Fried Meats

When putting a salad together, avoid foods described as breaded, crispy, crunchy, or battered. These words usually mean the food has been fried. In case you forgot, anything fried is high in calories and often made with unhealthy fats. Chicken, fish, or shrimp are great sources of protein for a salad, but they quickly pile on unwanted calories when fried. Choose grilled meats instead.

Croutons and Wontons

They may add a nice crunch to your salad, but they also add extra calories and possibly unhealthy fats. Made from refined, white grains that have been fried, croutons and wontons provide little to no nutritional value. Check the nutrition label before indulging. Most likely, the serving size for either is much smaller than the amount you typically eat on your salad.

Cheese

Cheese isn’t bad for you, but it is high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat. Because of this, it should be limited if you’re trying to lose weight. Desperate to add cheese for the calcium, protein, and flavor it provides? Just make sure you use only 1 ounce or less of 100-percent cheese products.

Processed Meats

Adding bacon or deli meats to your salad quickly blows the calorie count through the roof. A few strips of bacon could add 30 grams of fat and 400 calories to your salad. And if you think you can get away with bacon bits, think again. They may taste great, but bacon bits are often not even made of real bacon, but of bacon flavoring, sugar, and salt. If you choose deli meats, stick with chicken or turkey.

Creamy Dressing

All it takes is one high-calorie ingredient to ruin a perfectly good salad. For many salads, that one ingredient is a creamy salad dressing drizzled on top. With that in mind, you’d be wise to be wary of how much dressing you use. A serving size of dressing is usually 2 tablespoons, but most people use a lot more.

And remember that fat-free doesn’t mean calorie-free. The fat may be removed, but the calories have not. Popular creamy dressings include Thousand Island, Ranch, Blue Cheese, and Caesar. If you’re looking for a healthier option, vinaigrette dressing usually has about half the calories as creamy dressings.

Nuts

Nuts of all varieties are packed with nutrients and are a wonderful addition to your diet, but they are also high in calories. A few nuts on your salad is fine, but be sure to limit yourself to just a few. To keep your salad as healthy as possible, avoid nuts that are made with glazed or candied nuts, which rack up the calorie count fast.

Taco Bowl

Taco salad is a healthy choice, unless it’s eaten along with a fried tortilla shaped into a bowl. The bowl itself adds more than 200 calories to your meal. Still want a taco salad? Eat it out of a regular bowl. Make it even more diet-friendly by skipping the sour cream and queso.