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Are Salads healthy? Know the truth!

Swati sodhi
Swati sodhi
Salads means healthy and healthy means salads ! Atleast that's what we think ,right?

Salads are probably the first thing that comes to our mind when we think about clean or healthy eating. But just because a few ingredients put together is named a fancy salad on a menu doesn’t make it healthy. People usually see ‘salads’ and think that they can never go wrong with them. Well, bad news- you can!

Truth be told, 9 out of 10 times, the salads you ordered in the past were in no way healthier than their opposite numbers on the menu. The truth is, as I always like to pit it in case of salads is ‘they can be wolves disguised as sheep’. You would be surprised to know the number of calories the fancy additives like croutons, canned fruits, thick creamy dressings etc adds to it, which absolutely throws the idea of clean eating down the tubes. Having said that this article might really help you with which salads to choose or avoid the next time you want to make healthier choices.

What makes salads unhealthy ?

Salads, at its basic best, are a bowl full of standard veggies –lettuce, greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers etc., but a plain salad! - whose interested? No one right! So, we want to try new and different salads on the menu. Now new or different (doesn’t necessary imply healthy) could mean croutons (stale fried bread), canned fruits (sugar syrup laden), creamy dressings (mostly these contain more calories than the entire salad), fried noodles or loads of cheese (calorie dense). These yummy little culprits can turn your healthy meal into a fiesta of calorie overload. Oh, but we wanted to eat healthy and eat lesser calories-whatever happened to that! So, make sure you are mindful of what you are ordering and if possible its always better to customize your salads.

👉Salad diet - Yay or Nay?

👍 Most people don’t realise that our bodies need a certain number of calories to perform its functions efficiently on a day to day basis. Most beginners who want to start a diet will start eating salads for all the meals of the day, thinking that they need to eat less to lose weight. However, eating less doesn’t mean to starve yourself. Our body needs its share of carbs, fats and proteins. And clearly the salads that we mostly get in the market are not even close to being healthy. So basically, just eating lettuce with a blob of a creamy dressing and some cherry tomatoes is just not the right thing to do. In fact, this could lead to a slower metabolism over the period of time, which in turn can make you gain more weight in the long run. 


👉So SHOULD you eat salad or no?

👍Calories are all that matter at the end of the day. So, when it comes to the salads, creamy dressings top off the charts here. More often they contain more calories than the whole salad itself. They are usually a mixture of mayonnaise, heavy cream, fat and different herbs. Also avoid canned fruits or dried candied nuts which might as well be drenched in sugar syrups; cold cut meats which are highly processed and low on nutrient value. Keep a major portion control on deep fried croutons, tortilla chips or fried noodles (high in calories, sodium and trans fats) as they can add up densely to the caloric value of the meal.

👉Then how to choose/order a diet-friendly salad?

👍A diet friendly salad should be a well-balanced combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Make sure to keep the following points in mind:

Firstly, choose a vinaigrette based dressings for your salads as opposed to the creamy ones. It can save you a whole lot of calories. Secondly, try and add more of dark green veggies such as spinach, kale, basil leaves, broccoli etc. Choose a grilled, steamed or sautéed portion of protein to your salad instead of a fried one, be it chicken, fish, tofu, paneer or eggs. Don’t forget to add the good fats. Choose from a variety of avocado, nuts or different kinds of seeds like chia, sunflower etc.

You can also add a cup of fruit, pasta, potatoes, quinoa for a complete meal. So, if you notice, a salad like this would rather be a complete and a balanced meal full of carbs, fats and proteins which will keep you satiated for long.

We just have to be mindful of what we are ordering. It’s always better to know your food. Salads can be pretty wholesome and guilt free if done right. But most of the times due to our ignorant choices, we end up doing more damage than good.

👉Take away message-

👍Remove creamy dressings, candied fruits or nuts, cold cuts, croutons from the salads and rather replace them with the healthier options like olive oil or vinaigrette dressings, fruits, walnuts, flaxseeds etc. These little changes absolutely bumps up the nutritional value of the meal and can possibly cut the calories to half. Also, people tend to go overboard with the healthier meals thinking they can eat as much since it is healthy. But that’s not the case. Moderation and portion control is an absolute must. Food items like avocados or cheese are calories dense, make sure to exercise moderation. A little mindfulness is all you need while ordering food and you shall be good.

Hope you find this article useful.

Do leave a comment if you like it.

CARPE DIEM!