Is your salad dressing healthy? Four things to consider

Don’t let a calorie-laden dressing undo your good healthy eating and weight loss work

Salad dressing
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s pretty easy to ruin a good salad with a high-sugar, high-fat dressing. Dietician Helen Bond gives her tips on how to ensure your salad dressing is a healthy addition to your meals, rather than taking away the goodness…

1. Check the ingredients

The first few ingredients usually give a strong indication of what’s in it, in descending order of weight. If olive oil, for example, is the top ingredient, it will be a much higher fat product, but if water is at the top then it’ll be a lighter, reduced-fat product.

2. Choose lower-fat varieties

If you’re choosing a creamier dressing, cut down on calories by selecting the lower-fat version. With these, the first ingredient, which is usually oil, becomes water, which makes quite a saving on calories.

Just remember you don’t need to avoid all fats – some is needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (that’s vitamins A, D, E and K) within the foods in your salad, such as the carotenoids in carrots or orange and red peppers.

Vitamin D foods: salad nicoise

(Image credit: Unsplash / Egidijus Bielskis)

3. Beware sugar and salt content

With reduced-fat varieties, often manufacturers add in a lot more salt and sugar. Free sugars (which include honey) are the ones we’re trying to cut down on. So, don’t focus solely on fat and calories.

4. Watch your serving size

We’re all guilty of drizzling dressing liberally over our salad – but a typical serving should be just 1tbsp (15ml) and I certainly wouldn’t suggest using any more than 2tbsp.

What are the best low-fat salad dressings?

Here are five low-calorie salad dressings we absolutely love. In each of the below, calorie contents are per one tablespoon/15ml serving:


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