Please don’t take this title the wrong way. Salads make a fabulous healthy meal option. When loaded with a variety of beautiful colourful plant foods, healthy natural fat, and a sensible protein portion, they make a balanced healthy meal.
The major pitfall of choosing salads is not the lovely whole food nutritious whole food ingredients, but the salad dressings which may go on them. Especially for the time poor, commercial salad dressings commonly hold a resident spot in the inner refrigerator door. Commercial salad dressings are a quick and convenient addition to any bountiful bowl of colourful vegetables. However, convenience certainly comes at a cost. Read below to find out why eating commercial salad dressings daily is ruining your healthy eating.
Added sugar is most commonly found in “low-fat,” “light,” and “fat-free” products as it is used to add flavour. Also used in “original” regular fat containing dressings, sugar is commonly used to make these products taste delicious.
If we’re going to be real about choosing a salad as a healthy choice, it’s time to think twice about added sugar. Refined sugar has no place in a healthy balanced diet. There is a great emphasis on removing products such as salad dressings which add to one’s general dietary sugar load.
Industrial seed oils
Canola, soy, grape seed, cottonseed, rapeseed, and rice bran are common cheap ingredients found in commercial salad dressings. These ingredients have no place in a healthy diet due to being highly processed and inflammatory in nature.
Choose extra virgin olive, avocado, or whole/seed nut oils (e.g. macadamia, linseed, sesame) which are minimally processed. These are ideally dressing oils of choice as they offer many healthful benefits.
Chemical preservatives are almost a necessity in the productions of commercially prepared salad dressing. These products are formulated to last a lifetime. To prevent deterioration, chemicals such as Sulphur Dioxide are used. These chemicals retard all life they come in contact with. This is why no moulds or bacteria will grow on salad dressing from the bottle, even after 6 months from opening.
The problems with these chemicals as they have the potential of interacting with our friendly microbial species which live all over and inside us. Healthy bacteria play an important role in human health. Products which upset these bacteria have many unknown implications
Gluten [in its many mysterious forms]
For anyone with coeliac disease or overt gluten sensitivity, commercially prepared products such as salad dressings may be causing subtle health problems.
Gluten is often used as a thicker or filler in the form of modified wheat starch or maltodextrin. It certainly pays to check the ingredients panel of any commercially prepared processed food.
The take-home I recommend for choosing a salad dressing is that if you don’t recognise the ingredients as something you’d keep in your kitchen, it doesn’t belong in your mouth.
Check out my blog fearlessnutrition.co.nz for healthy salad dressing ideas that will take your healthy eating to the next level.
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Sylvia is a New Zealand Registired Dietitian and Integrative Nutritionist. Sylvia shares healthy recipes and blogs at fearlessnutrition.co.nz The way we eat and how we live are key to building a healthy body. Sylvia’s approach builds on this core foundation of using real food and real life [...]