Today, you’re being good, so you’ll opt for a salad. Right? We’ve all thought it at one point or another.
But while salads can be a great low-calorie choice to fuel your body, they aren’t always the beacon of health we think they are.
Expert Jenna Hope, Linwoods health food ambassador and nutritionist, reveals how to boost your homemade salad and make it the best it can be…
Whether at home or in a restaurant, be wary of…
“Dressings which are sweet in flavour or syrupy in texture are high in sugar,” warns Jenna. “Opt for a salad that has a balsamic vinegar dressing (not glaze) or just olive oil instead. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to support heart health.
“A salad dressing has the potential to add around 100 calories to a dish, but in creamy dressings this number could be even higher. If a product uses artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, it isn’t necessarily healthier. Sweeteners can drive up appetite and play havoc with gut health.”
“Salads are often bulked out with white rice, croutons and pasta, because they’re cheap additions,” explains Jenna. “These foods are released quickly into your bloodstream, meaning you’ll feel hungrier faster. Choose a salad with complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, butternut squash, quinoa and pulses.”
“Restaurants can add two or three times the normal serving size of cheese to a salad,” says Jenna. “Cheese is a source of calcium, vitamin A and vitamin B12 but it’s high in saturated fats so watch portion sizes. Feta, goat’s cheese and cottage cheese are lower in fats.”
“Processed meats are loaded with artificial flavourings and have been linked to an increased risk of kidney disease,” says Jenna. “Pack your salad with good-quality proteins like pulses, chicken, salmon, tuna, beans and nuts.”
What’s in the perfect salad?
Aim for at least two portions of non-starchy vegetables, one portion of oils, butter or healthy fats, one portion of meat or fish (unless vegetarian or vegan) and one portion of complex carbohydrates in your salad.
Supermarket salads we love
- BOL Mexican Salad Jar (£3.99, Ocado) is packed full of flavour so you won’t be tempted to snack on anything afterwards, plus the black beans will increase your fibre intake.
- Sainsbury’s Chicken With 4 Grains (£2.80) is low in fat, salt and sugar, and it gives you around half your daily recommended protein amount.
- Irresistible Smoked Almond Supergreen Salad (£3.25, Co-op) is a great high-protein option for vegetarians, and the nuts provide those healthy fats.