If your new year’s resolution for 2021 includes cutting back on unhealthy foods, you may be looking to salads as a healthy alternative. But it’s not enough to simply trade in your slice of pizza for a Caesar salad. Besides loading up on bacon bits or croutons, your salad dressing is the most significant ingredient to determine how “good for you” your salad really is.
The right dressing can often make or break a salad. While dressings add moisture and flavor to an otherwise dry mixture of leafy greens and protein, many options are high in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar, inflating the calorie count, and effectively canceling out any good nutrients.
Nutrition Label Tricks
The next time you do your grocery shopping, take a closer look at the nutrition label of your favorite salad dressing, you may be surprised with what you find. Below are two deceptive nutrition label tricks that manufacturers use to make their salad dressings appear “healthy.”
1. “Low Calorie”
Be on the lookout for low advertised calorie counts that often lower the serving size to give off the appearance that they are “low calorie.” Unless you’re willing to limit your use of dressing to the recommended serving, you won’t actually be seeing the benefits of the lower calorie count.
2. “Low Fat” or “Reduced Fat”
This one is much more complicated as there is a general misconception about fats. For the purposes of this discussion, just know that in order to lower the fat and still retain the flavor, it’s likely that sugar has been added. The next time you have the chance, compare the nutrition facts of the “original” to the low or “reduced fat” version. You’ll likely find there are several more grams of added sugar in the low-fat version.
Why Should You Switch to Balsamic Vinaigrettes?
If after reading our nutrition label tricks you’re wondering what, if any salad dressing is healthy, you’ll be happy to know that there is a healthy option, and it doesn’t compromise on flavor either. Balsamic vinaigrettes can add bold flavor to your salad and are packed with a variety of health benefits:
1. Balsamic Vinegar Can Help Lower Cholesterol
Naturally occurring antioxidants found in balsamic vinegar have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. Antioxidants target free-radical “scavenger cells” that are toxic to your body and can increase your cholesterol.
2. Balsamic Vinegar Can Help Manage Diabetes
Some studies have found that balsamic vinegar, consumed in moderation, can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar.
3. Balsamic Vinegar Supports Weight Loss
Balsamic vinegar is low in sugar and contains zero fat. It also contains probiotic compounds that can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time.
4. Balsamic Vinegar Can Improve Digestive Health
The same probiotic compounds that leave you feeling full can also improve gut health. Acetic acid, the main component in balsamic vinegar, helps your digestive system to break down other foods.
5. Balsamic Vinegar May Actually Improve Your Skin
Antioxidants and Acetic acid in balsamic vinegar can also improve complexion and skin clarity when consumed regularly.
The benefits we’ve outlined, like with any food, are only true when consumed in moderation. Moderation is a key component of healthier living and it’s important to note that healthy meals start with healthy ingredients. When it comes to your salad dressing, using a balsamic vinaigrette can help keep your good eating habits on track by adding flavor that doesn’t compromise on nutrition.
Looking for balsamic vinegar flavors to get you started? The Olive Bar in Downtown Campbell carries a wide assortment of high-quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, jams, honey, and more. Visit us in-store or shop online today.