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Top 10 to avoid the Salad Trap

A 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 side.

Note: Salad dressing is the biggest source of fat in a woman’s diet.

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 fat and calories.

Turn over a new leaf:

Iceberg lettuce 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 calcium and iron and eight times as much vitamin A and 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.

Veg out:

Fresh, raw vegetables add flavor and color to a salad, not to mention healthy doses of importantvitamins and minerals. You can beef up your salad’s nutritional profile with any combination of the following toppings.

Mayonnaise and salad cream contain a lot of fat. Make salad dressings with natural yogurt, herbs, spices, tomato juice, vinegar and lemon juice

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 :

When 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.

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.

Serve Separately:

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.

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