Everyone knows that eating salad not only promotes health but also helps with weight loss, that is why it is so important to carefully look at the ingredients of the dressing you are going to put on your healthy salad. If you are at a restaurant, ask the waiter for their salad dressing ingredients, so you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to eat it or not.
Most salad dressings contain vegetable oil. It is important that you understand the different oils which are used and why some are better than others for health and for weight loss.
An interesting study was done at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Louisiana, which looked at the necessity of having oil in a salad dressing. One of the reasons for eating salad is to get the health benefits from it, such as absorbing the carotenoid antioxidants, which tomatoes and salad greens have in abundance. For our bodies to absorb these antioxidants, it is necessary to consume healthy fats with the salad. The results of the study at Purdue University show that you should steer clear of fat free and low fat dressings.
The best oils for salad dressings are those which are high in monounsaturated fats, alpha linolenic acid and phytochemicals. Doctors and dietitians recommend you buy the best quality you can afford and make sure you keep the oil in a cool, dry place to prevent it going rancid. The best oils are olive oil, peanut, canola, walnut, hemp, grape seed, almond and avocado.
Check the labels on shop bought salad dressings before you buy them. You will see that most of them are full of artificial flavorings and additives which are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle and rather spoil your intention of eating a ‘healthy’ salad. These additives are full of chemicals and have a toxic effect on your body.
Most commercial salad dressings have sugar in them. If they don’t have sugar, then they will have some unhealthy form of sweetener, such as corn starch syrup. If you are eating salad because you want to lose weight, you will be eating hidden calories, which rather defeats the object.
MAKE YOUR OWN SALAD DRESSING
You can make the most amazing salad dressings which not only taste really good but are also low in calories and exceptionally good for your health.
Oil and Vinegar and Alternatives
Start with a good oil, such as olive, peanut, hemp, almond, canola or avocado and to this add some sort of acid based liquid. You can experiment until you find the one that suits you and the particular salad you eating that day. Most people use some sort of vinegar, but there are alternatives to straight vinegar. Try using apple cider vinegar, balsamic or brown rice vinegar or coconut vinegar, which is a new product on the market and makes great salad dressings. Lemon juice and lime juice are also good in salad dressings, especially if you are having avocado or fish in your salad.
Add an ingredient or two which binds your dressing and makes it more nutritious and tasty. This could be avocado, Dijon mustard, honey, ground seeds, such as flax, sunflower or pumpkin, or even chia seeds.
Now is the time to add the herbs and/or spices of your choice. The possibilities are as great as your imagination allows them to be. You can always add some green leaves to your dressing and blend it altogether for the ultimate healthy salad dressing.
Ratio of Ingredients
Old school thought regarding the ratio of oil to vinegar was 3 parts oil to one part vinegar. New school foodies totally disagree with this ratio, not only for health reasons but also for taste. They believe that the ratios should be reversed, that is 3 parts vinegar and 1 part oil. Remember that one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil is 120 calories, so it makes sense to cut down on the quantity in your dressing. Also, remember that you don’t need to drown your salad in dressing. Not only does it makes the leaves go soggy but it also increases fat content and therefore calories.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
You do need some fat in your dressing in order for your body to absorb the plant-based carotenoids which are in your salad. These antioxidants help fight and prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration. You don’t need more than two or three tablespoons of dressing on your salad and remember to add it at the last minute so the salad doesn’t become soggy.
Once you have tasted a healthy homemade salad dressing, you will never buy one off the shelf again.