They've come up with many rules and regulations for using salad dressing over the years. Everything from dipping your salad into a little pool of dressing cutting back exactly to one tablespoon. They said to keep salad dressing low-fat and that the calories from your salad dressing would ruin the whole salad.
They want people to eat more salads. Yet, many people find salads to be dry and underwhelming without a good salad dressing. You aren't alone – I find the same thing happening.
Many people face the choice of disliking salad and often skipping it entirely because they wanted something with flavor, with pizzazz, and tasty.
That's okay. It's a perfectly reasonable choice to eat food you enjoy. We're here to tell you it's okay to eat your salad absolutely drowning in salad dressing... as long as you are eating the salad.
There Is No Bad Salad Dressing If You're Eating Your Salad
The idea of cutting back salad dressing is based on the old thought of calorie consumption. They thought fat-based salad dressings added too many calories.
Great idea, but no facts to actually back it up.
After years of mandating people cut back on salad dressing, did it work?
Turns out, most people don't use much more than a tablespoon of salad dressing anyway. But, with the constant call to cut back, people were using much less than the tablespoon... and suffering for it.
So, what is the difference between cutting back and using what you want?
Not a whole heck of a lot. Generally, it's less than 50 calories, just a couple of grams of fat, and a whole world of taste.
In the overall grand scheme of your diet, how much salad dressing used is nearly inconsequential to your diet.
What makes a bigger difference is eating the salad. If you're using salad dressing and eating your salad, that's so much better than not eating a salad at all.
Why Some Dressings Are Better
That's not to say all salad dressings are completely healthy, but some are better than others.
Salad dressings based on oil, a pure fat, are much healthier. Most of them use healthy omega-3 rich olive oil as the base.
Olive oil is extremely healthy and helps your heart, your brain, and your immune system. Choosing a high-quality olive oil can give you several vitamins and minerals and multiple fats that go directly towards helping preserve memories, brain function, heart health, and may boost your metabolism.
Olive oil is one-half of the healthiest salad dressing of oil and vinegar. A rich balsamic vinegar packs in nutrients, antioxidants, and polyphenols excellent for your heart and disease prevention.
Because olive oil and balsamic vinegar are so nutritionally rich, nutritionists recommend using it for your salads.
They don't recommend, but generally accept, creamy dressings with dairy as its base. These dressings typically have added sugars to round out the sweetness. As a result, they don't often have much nutrition.
While neither of these ingredients is good, they form the middle of the road for salad dressings. Yes, they can make your salad tastes great and help you eat it, but they're not providing anything extra for you.
The worst type of salad dressing is fat-free dressings. These dressings cut way back on the healthy olive oils that provide so many omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, many rely on hydrogenated oils filled with trans-fats that hurt your heart.
These dressings go one step farther to being unhealthy. Fat is one of the primary carriers of flavor, so it has to be replaced with something else in fat-free dressing. Unfortunately, most get packed with sugar.
How To Make Creamy and Sugary Dressings Healthier
If you're used to eating sugary, creamy dressings, it seems a huge stretch to switch over to oil and vinegar. It doesn't have the same texture or feel in your mouth as the creamy dressing. It's not as tasty, and maybe even a little bit bitter to you.
That's a very normal and reasonable experience.
If you take steps to transition to a healthier salad dressing, you're doing your body a favor and still getting in the good salad.
Start your transition by choosing a higher-quality salad dressing. That means you're switching from fat-free to regular versions. Yes, it does mean additional fat and calories, but that is okay. Choosing a higher quality dressing means you're getting better quality olive oil and more healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Once you enjoy that version, start exploring different types of salad dressing. Many of the higher-end dressings have various flavors, such as fruits, herbs, and different nut oils. They can expand your flavor horizon and give you exciting ways of enjoying your salad.
You can start exploring different versions of oil and vinegar-type dressings, ones that are packed with different flavors like raspberry, strawberry, and rich herbs. Take a look at some of the different types of oil and vinegar-based dressings, easily recognizable by the separation of oil from the watery layer beneath.
It may take a little while, but as you explore the different flavors, you get healthier in the meantime. The oil and vinegar-based dressings have many more nutrients that can keep you healthy and let you enjoy the salad full of rich flavors.
But, even if you don't come to like these salad dressings, it's not a big deal. Stick with what you enjoy and eat the salad. It's better to have your salad covered in a creamy salad dressing than no salad at all.