Before you dig into your next lunchtime salad, you might be doing more damage than good by your choice of salad toppings.
So how can you avoid bad eating habits and get the boost of nutrition that you are looking for? One way is to choose baby lettuce leaves. The younger salad leaves that haven’t grown to maturity contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Try adding baby spinach, baby arugula, baby watercress to your salad and don’t add these extras…keep reading for the full list.
How to Avoid Bad Eating Habits…Don’t Ruin Your Healthy Salad
Salads are often considered one of the healthiest food choices one can make, but unfortunately there are many ways to take what could be a good thing and transform it from healthy to harmful. By adding extras onto to nutritious greens, a salad can be as damaging as just eating fries.
Extra toppings like croutons add extra calories while offering zero nutritional value, but worst of all, they often contain a host of potentially harmful ingredients.
For example, Olive Garden’s seasoned croutons are highly processed and include high fructose corn syrup as well as the additive TBHQ, a petroleum derivative used to keep oils from going rancid. And for those many celiac disease or gluten sensitive people out there, unless they are gluten-free croutons, they contain wheat, which is not healthy.
Adding Processed Meat
Including a few slices of grilled chicken breast adds healthy protein that can turn a salad into a nutritious, satisfying meal.
Unfortunately, many salads include deep-fried or processed meats that are filled with preservatives and often, toxic compounds. Many of these meats include sodium nitrite to help give them a red color. This substance has been linked to a significant increase in the risk of several types of cancer.
Adding Glazed Nuts
Nuts and seeds offer healthy fats that can help keep you feeling satisfied longer and make a great addition to any salad, unless they happen to be kettle-cooked and glazed with sugar. You’ll find them sprinkled onto salads at many popular restaurants across the nation, and many are not only packed with sugar in a number of different forms, but also include unhealthy oils like canola as well as artificial flavors.
Tortilla Shell Salad
Skip the tortilla shell salads – or at least simply don’t eat the tortilla shell (which of course begs the question why order the tortilla part). The shell is almost certainly fried in unhealthy oils, and the corn base is almost certainly a cheap corn variety – or it is multi-grain, which typically includes wheat in it.
Salad dressing is often the quickest way to ruin a salad as they’re typically high in unhealthy fats, sodium, calories, artificial flavors and frequently MSG. Most packaged types are also highly processed, with a host of unwanted and potentially toxic ingredients.
Organic extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar make a healthy choice – there are a lot of other possibilities, but stick to homemade with healthy ingredients, not the store bought kinds containing a long list of ingredients.
Using Iceberg Lettuce
While not as bad as using the previous ingredients mentioned, iceberg lettuce offers few nutrients. Why waste the opportunity to use a superfood as the base for your salad, like baby spinach leaves or kale? Remember the darker the leaves, the richer they are in essential nutrients like folate and minerals as well as phytochemicals.
The next time you choose a salad, make sure it’s truly a healthy choice!