Top 10 to avoid the Salad Trap
salad may seem like a better choice than,
say, a burger. But garnish your greens with the wrong choices, and you
might just as well eat the ground round - and may be even some fries on the
Note: Salad dressing is the biggest source of fat in a woman's
The salad, of course, has a place in a healthy diet-if you know
how to navigate the salad bar. The following tips
can help you create salads that draw the line at
Turn over a new leaf:
is standard at most salad bars, but truth be told, it doesn't hold a candle to
its darker green brethren in terms of nutrient content. Romaine lettuce,
for example, has twice as much
iron and eight times as much
vitamin C as iceberg. As a good rule of thumb, the darker your leafy
greens, the more nutritious they are. Other smart selections to look for
include kale, spinach, watercress, and arugula.
Fresh, raw vegetables add flavor and color
to a salad, not to mention healthy doses of important
You can beef up your salad's nutritional profile with any combination of the
One-half cup of these red gems supplies a
whopping 68 micrograms of
folate, a vitamin that moms-to-be need to protect
their babies against birth defects. There's also evidence to suggest
that folate may protect against cervical dysplasia, the development of
abnormal cells in the cervix that is sometimes a precursor to cancer.
One-half cup provides 41
milligrams of disease-fighting vitamin C, or 68 percent of your Daily Value ( DV ).
You won't find a better food
source of vitamin A - 1/2 cup has 17,159 IU, or over 300
percent of the DV.
You get a good amount of fiber, too.
Like its cruciferous cousin
broccoli, cauliflower is rich in vitamin C - about 23 milligrams in 1/2 cup.
Except for small amounts of folate, vitamin C,
fiber, and potassium, celery doesn't have a whole lot of nutritional value.
But it does give your salad a lot of crunch for just a few calories and
practically no fat.
Another "crunchable," cucumbers contribute small
amounts of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C to your salad.
Along with copper, mushrooms provide a
B-vitamin boost of folate,
Sweet red peppers are another stellar source of vitamin C, providing 87 milligrams per 1/2 cup
chopped. Their green counterparts supply a not-too-shabby 66 milligrams.
You can't beat either variety for vibrant color and satisfying crunch.
With more vitamin C than the pale green
variety, red cabbage also supplies some vitamin B6 and
There's no better source of ly-copene, a
relatively unknown "super nutrient" that scientists believe helps to protect
against a number of different cancers as well as dysphasia.
Mayonnaise and salad cream contain a lot of fat. Make salad
dressings with natural yogurt,
herbs, spices, tomato juice, vinegar and
Be fruit-full :
Many salad bars feature nutrient - rich fresh
fruits, from melon wedges and pineapple spears to kiwifruit and berries.
Enjoy them on the side - or add them to your greens to give your salad just a
touch of natural sweetness.
Pick some protein :
Scout the salad bar for legumes such as
kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and split peas. They're low
in fat and high in fiber and protein - perfect as a meat substitute in healthy
salad. If you have a hankering for the real thing, choose turkey
breast or chicken breast. They are not as low in fat as legumes (they get about 20 percent of their calories from fat), but they're not nearly
as bad as most lunchmeats.
Sprinkle on the cheese :
sprinkled on your salad sparingly, cheese supplies a nice-size dose of
bone-building calcium. It's best to choose low-fat or nonfat
varieties, but you can't always tell what you're getting at a salad bar.
Grated Parmesan is usually a safe bet. It's higher than most other
cheeses in calcium, and one or two tablespoons can go a little farther
than a shredded type.
Fake out fat:
Anything can look healthy when it's surrounded by
a sea of greens and veggies. But beware the usual salad bar fat traps:
nuts and seeds, soiled olives, croutons, chowmein noodles, and bacon bits.
Any of these can sabotage your salad by driving up its calorie and fat content.
Sample with restraint:
Just because something is called a salad doesn't mean it's good for you.
Take potato salad: Just 1/2 cup can add 179 calories and 10 grams of
fat to your plate. In general, it's a good idea to avoid this and
other mayonnaise-based deli-style concoctions. Fill up the healthy
stuff first, so "just a taste" doesn't turn into an entire plateful.
Opt for low fat dressing:
Stick with a
nonfat or low-fat-salad dressing, but even that should be used with a light
touch. You may want to try one of these options instead. Your salad may not seem complete without your
favourite dressing drizzled over the top. But before you grab the Iadle and
pour, consider this: If you overdo it, you can turn a perfectly healthful
plate of greens and vegetables into unhealthy fare that gets as much as 70
percent of its calories from fat.
Give it a squeeze.
Lemon or lime juice makes a nice
substitute for traditional salad dressing, and it gives your salad a burst of
vitamin C to boot. Simply squeeze a slice or two of the fruit right onto
your salad for a light yet zesty taste.
Try something new.
If you're an oil-and-vinegar
fan, sample some of the more exotic vinegars that some salad bars offer these
days, such as balsamic, champagne, raspberry, and white-or-red-wine. Their
robust flavors mean you can get by with a lot less oil - say, three parts
vinegar to only one part oil.
Make your own.
At home, you can combine a couple of
salad bar staples to create a "dressing" with less fat and fewer calories than
their pre-made counterparts. For example, spoon out made some low-fat
yogurt and add just enough reduced-calorie mayonnaise to thicken it, then add it
to your salad. Or mix just a small amount of low-fat dressing with some
low-fat cottage cheese and use that as your salad topping.
Among regular, full-fat dressings, thin
ones such as French and Italian tend to be better choices than thicker ones such
as blue cheese and Thousand Island. This is true not because they have
less fat but because they spread more easily, so you can use less.
Keep it on the side.
Rather than lading the
dressing right over your salad, put it in a small container. Then lightly
dip your fork into the container before spearing your salad. This method
gives you better portion control.
Do away with excess Salt:
While sodium is an essential nutrient,
too much of it attracts a layer of water under your skin that looks like a layer
of body fat. Obviously, that's not good for your six-pack or, for that matter,
the lines of your thighs, even if your body fat is already low. On the other
hand, too drastic a reduction in sodium due to diuretics or other harsh methods
can cause cramping, low
blood pressure, fainting and other health risks. If you
like to sprinkle salt on your food and use it in baking, try potassium chloride
(KCl) instead of table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl). Cutting back on sodium is
one of many ways to make a healthy cardiovascular system healthier. Lastly,
keeping sodium in its place preserves
bone by reducing the loss of calcium to
the urine. That means less risk of bone fractures when you're older and still
squatting 400 pounds.
Go for a separate
serving of vegetables, butter, mayonnaise or dressings so that you can
choose whether to have it or not. This will provide you with an opportunity to
include more fruit and vegetables in your meal and avoid unnecessary fat.
The trick here is to choose a salad with lots of color - plenty of reds, orange
and rich greens. A topping of grilled chicken or a toss of sunflower seeds packs
a little protein, while a breadstick rounds the meal off.
Dated 27 September 2012