10 Ways To Make Your Salad Unhealthy

By MaryAnn DePietro, CRT. May 7th 2016

It’s time for lunch or dinner, and you are trying to find something healthy to eat. If you think about eating a healthy meal, a salad may come to mind. Salad can be a healthy choice, but in some cases it can be filled with fat and high in calories. Don’t be fooled into thinking because it’s a salad it is always the best choice. Whether you are making your own salad or ordering one in a restaurant, consider some of the common ways you could be ruining a healthy salad.

Crunchy Munchies

A teaspoon of crunchy toppings here and there can’t hurt, right? Not so fast. While toppings, such as, croutons, candies nuts, tortilla strips and Chinese noodles can add taste and crunch to your salad, they also add fat and calories. In addition, salad toppings mentioned above do not contain a lot of nutrients. Instead, add small bits of apple to get the crunch or grapes to add a bit of sweetness.

Turning Your Salad Into A Taco

You’re in the mood for a salad, but maybe with a little rice, sour cream, tortilla strips and ground beef. That may sound good, but you’re not really eating a salad, you are eating a taco. If you’re in the mood for a taco, you’re probably better off just having one. A typical taco salad has more fat and calories than a regular taco.

Fried Chicken

Fried chicken can be tasty, but let’s face it; it’s usually not the healthiest choice. Just because you toss it onto a bed of lettuce, does not make it any healthier. If you’re looking to add a little protein to your salad, consider hard-boiled eggs, grilled meats or smoked salmon.

[Related – Iceberg Lettuce: Nutrition Facts For Your Next Salad]

Tons Of Dressing

There is no faster way to ruin a healthy salad than to smother it with salad dressing. Store bought salad dressing often has about 200 calories in a serving. Keep in mind, a serving size is about two tablespoons. Unless you are measuring it, it’s possible to put on even more than a serving. Instead of drenching your salad with dressing, keep dressing on the side and dip your fork in before each bite. Another alternative is using low calorie salad dressings or lightly drizzling it with olive oil and vinegar.

[Related – Easy Recipes For Healthy Salad Dressings]


Cheese is a favorite salad ingredient for a lot of people, but it is a good way to ruin a healthy salad. Although it varies depending on the type of cheese you eat, a fourth of a cup can add about 100 calories. When you consider that is a relatively small portion, it may not be worth the calories.


Adding herbs and spices to food can be a good thing, but adding a lot of extra salt can ruin a healthy meal. Extra salt can increase your chances of developing kidney stones and possibly osteoporosis. If that was not enough to make you put down the salt shaker, too much salt can also leave you feeling puffy from fluid retention. Consider using herbs to spice things up, such as dill, cilantro and chives.

Going Too Light

Darker is better when it comes to lettuce. If you make a salad and only use iceberg lettuce, you’re missing out on a lot of nutrients. For example, romaine lettuce has about six times the amount of vitamin C and almost eight times the amount of vitamin A. Other options include leaf lettuce and arugula.

No Flavor

Because a salad is healthy, does not mean it has to be flavorless. If you make a salad which is too plain and unsatisfying, you may find yourself picking on other foods shortly after you finished. Add some flavor and color to a salad with healthy ingredients, such as green onions, beets, avocados and kidney beans. Healthy fats and protein will also help keep you full longer.

[Related – 10 Diet Foods That Make You Feel Full]

Processed Meats

Bacon and deli meats, such as ham and salami may add a bit of flavor to a salad, but they also add a high amount of sodium and preservatives. Certain meats are also high in fat and can add a few hundred calories depending on portion size. Save the deli meat for your next sub.

[Related – 8 Ways To Reduce Sodium Intake In Your Daily Diet]

Thinking Anything Goes

Often people think if they are eating a salad it must be good for you. Having a salad does not mean you have free rein to add anything, at least if you want to keep it healthy. Keep in mind; unhealthy ingredients are still unhealthy even in a salad.

Although salads can be a good choice, they are not always your best bet. Salads prepared in restaurants can come in at 1,000 calories or more. Keep the list of ingredients in mind when ordering. If you are trying to keep it healthy order or make salads with lots of fresh vegetables and healthy protein, such as grilled turkey or fish. Just think, with all the calories you save keeping it healthy, maybe you can splurge on a little dessert.


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