What an awesome way to keep healthy by making salads the mainstay in your diets. It cannot get more natural than that. But the equation can change once you bring a store-bought bottle of salad dressing and ruin all the natural goodness of salad.
Have you ever wondered why you are not able to achieve your weight management goals, despite salads and fruits being included in your diet? There could be something you are not doing right. In an effort to make a good and healthy salad, we add ingredients which can sabotage a healthy green salad.
Ingredients like cheese, cold cuts & fatty meats, excess dry fruits, nuts, cream, and salad dressing are the obvious saboteurs. Apart from dressings, most of them are healthy if consumed in moderation and if you cannot resist store bought salad dressings, you could be jeopardizing your weight management and health.
Read more about unhealthy foods
In case you are under the impression that by using “light,” “low-fat” or “fat-free” salad dressing you are in the safe zone, you are fooling yourself.
Store bought salad dressing
Salad dressing sales are booming with sales touching $ 2 Billion in America alone. While Ranch salad dressings are topping the sales pie and being most popular and favorite among consumers, other oil, and vinegar based dressings are also big on the charts. Food companies are shelving out tempting flavors and profiles like full fat, fat-free, light, and even organic by the day to woo every health conscious consumers.
It is so easy to ruin the healthy bowl of nutrient-rich dense greens. Just add processed dressing laden with unhealthy and heavily processed ingredients. Why would you do that?
Commercially available salad dressings offer the convenience of ready-made bottled dressing. Just squeeze a few tablespoons of dressing on freshly chopped greens and you are ready to go. Such conveniences are always sought after but they may be bad news for your health. These dressings are not only high in fat, are highly processed, made with low-quality ingredients, and contain harmful chemicals and additives.
A spoonful of bottled salad dressing is enough to kill your natural nutrient rich greens.
Most likely you would have made salad dressings at home and if you were asked to write down the ingredients you used, tops you would be able to write no more than 6-8. Furthermore, all those ingredients would have been fresh and natural.
Now look at this illustration by Bruce Bradley which shows typical ingredients in popular brands of salad dressings.
Did you ever use any of these ingredients while making a dressing at home?
Most probably your answer would be NO.
Common ingredients used in salad dressings which are unhealthy
1 – Processed Oils (Genetically modified)
You need a small amount of good fat in your salads which help absorb the nutritional goodness from the greens. Reason being, vitamins like A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble and without it, the bioavailability of nutrients will be reduced. According to the study conducted by the Perdue University states, the vegetables in salads are chock-full of important vitamins and nutrients, but you won’t get much benefit without the right type and amount of salad dressing
What you get from most salad dressings available in the market is processed oils like soy or canola or a blend of cheap vegetable oils. These oils are manufactured using high heat, high pressure and commonly called processed or refined oils which do more harm than good.
These oils are far from being healthy, most of them are genetically modified and linked to insulin resistance, infertility, and faster aging. They are also high in omegs-6 fatty acids which lead to inflammation.
You need a good quality fat source like extra-virgin olive oil in your salads.
Watch Video: Researchers study SALAD NUTRITION – PERDUE UNIVERSITY
2 – Water
That’s right, WATER.
Have you ever used water in your homemade salad dressing? I am still looking for someone who uses water in their vinaigrette or Italian dressing recipe. If you look at the illustration above, surprisingly most of the dressings have “water” as one of the first or second ingredients.
“Fat-free” or “lite ” salad dressings are the ones which replace fats with most water. They maintain the semblance of an oil based dressing by adding emulsifiers and thickeners to give the mouthfeel and flavor. And guess what? you lovingly pay more for fat-free dressing vis-a-vis a regular salad dressing.
Water is not toxic, but then, why would you want to pay for it and spoil a healthy salad?
3 – High-fructose corn syrup and sugar
Eating a salad gives your body a nutritious treat. Sugars in dressings can counteract much of the nutritional benefit of your bowl of greens. Most salad dressings are high in sugars in the form of high fructose corn syrups and sugars.
Prolonged consumption of HFCS is like other genetically modified products which may be bad for your health. A number of studies conducted over the past few decades indicate consumption of HFCS is linked to significant risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, elevated levels of cholesterol & triglycerides.
Artificial sweeteners are common ingredients in low-calorie and sugar-free salad dressing. There are many studies which link artificial sweeteners to various types of cancers.
5-EDTA – Preservatives
Preservatives and processed foods go hand in hand. EDTA is a chemical which is added as a preservative in salad dressings. It helps bind the metals that are found in the dressing. EDTA can cause allergic reactions, skin rashes, and also lead to kidney damage.
6 – MSG
Monosodium glutamate or MSG is a common ingredient in many salad dressings. It is a food additive that enhances flavors which have been linked to migraines. Many food labels hide MSG and disguise it in many different names such as maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract etc.
7 – Artificial colors
Salad dressings use artificial colors to make them look natural and appetizing. These colors resemble natural fruit colors but actually are dangerous to health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have acknowledged that artificial colors like caramel color, added to creamy dressings, has been linked to cancer. Red #40 is linked to ADHD among children and Yellow5 causes allergic reactions.
8 – GMOs
Many common salad dressings contain genetically modified ingredients with exception to some organic brands.
GMO ingredients include:
- Soybean & canola oil
- High fructose syrup
- Modified corn starch
- Xanthan gum
9 -Potassium Sorbate: It is a preservative that helps to keep salad dressings fresh for months without refrigeration.
10 – Polysorbate 60: It is used as an emulsifier to keep all the ingredients together. Why would you need that in the first place?
11 – Titanium dioxide: It’s a chemical used in the paint industry and chances are it contains lead. It’s used in salad dressings to make the ingredients look fresh.
Make your own healthy salad dressings
Making your own healthy salads and dressings in quite simple, healthy and fun. Once you start doing it, there is no end to how many variations and flavors you can create on your own. Try different oils, vinegars, spices and sky is the limit.