Did you know that salad you thought was “healthy” could have a whopping amount of fat and calories totaling even more than a BK Whopper! If you’ve been topping your greens with high-calorie dressings, cheese, croutons and other mix-ins, it’s time to “raise the salad bar” and toss in nutrient-rich ingredients that won’t sabotage weightloss goals.
According to a report on Channel 10 News, a recent survey found almost 64 percent of Americans are overweight or obese and deaths due to inactivity and poor diet have increased 33 percent over the past decade. This ever-growing problem may be caused in part by assuming you’re eating “healthy” – when in fact you’re not. And oftentimes, it’s a salad that can be the “food that fools ‘ya.”
Researchers from the “Eat This Not That” project highlight diet-sabotaging salads including On the Border’s Taco Salad with 1,690 calories, 124 grams of fat; Applebee’s Oriental Chicken salad with 1,300 calories and 15 grams of fat; and TGIF’s Santa Fe Chicken Salad with 1,800 calories – almost as much as a healthy woman should eat in one day.
According to Oxygen fitness magazine, the “ideal salad” should be comprised of 50% veggies and grains; 25% healthy fats; and 25% lean protein – and if you’re ordering a salad at a restaurant, avoid choices with descriptive words such as “crispy and creamy”; and ask for “dressing on the side” (just one tablespoon can have as much as 100 calories). .
‘Let-tuce feel fuller’
To curb hunger pangs, choose spinach and kale containing lipolic acid – an antioxidant combating the hunger pang hormone ghrelin and increasing the “I’m full” hormone leptin. Fiber can also help weight loss goals by making you feel fuller on fewer calories. Fiber-rich vegetables are salad saviors along with greens high in folic acid, which assist in cell repair.
‘Carbs are ok’
Adding a half-cup of whole grains to a salad can also contribute to the “fullness factor.” Good choices include cooked bulgur, couscous, or quinoa. Diced sweet potatoes and brown rice are low-glycemic carbs that can also help make a salad more filling.
‘Good vs. bad fats’
Trade the Caesar dressing and potato salad with mayo for monosaturated fats such as low-fat dressing and an ounce of avocado, a quarter cup of whole wheat croutons or unsalted nuts. Better cheese choices include small portions of feta, blue or aged Parmesan that can add a lot of flavor with fewer calories.
‘Pump up the protein’
Adding three ounces of lean protein on top of veggies and grains optimize glycogen stores that can help increase the duration of workouts. Some of the best protein choices include eggs, tuna (hold the mayo), grilled fish, shrimp, lean turkey breast, skinless chicken breast, tofu, seeds and beans.
Try mixing apple cider vinegar with apple juice and spicy mustard – or rice wine vinegar with mirin wine (in the Oriental section) and orange juice. Or try a combo of balsamic vinegar and Grey Poupon mustard. You can add some olive oil to make it even richer (especially great over spinach leaves).