Situation: You’re out for lunch or forgot to pack something for work today. It’s common to think that choosing a salad from the nearest takeaway menu is going to be the healthiest and lowest fat option.
And because it’s a salad you’re convinced you should get the larger serve or its okay to purchase this often as it’s always a healthy option. Unfortunately it’s not that black and white as there are actually many hidden sources of fats, salt and excess energy in commercial salads that are not helping the waist line!
Here are some interesting facts on what’s actually in common take away or restaurant salads.
1. Grilled Chicken Caesar Sumo Salad
Sat Fat 7.6g
2. Roast pumpkin pesto feta nut salads
Sat Fat 8.9g
3. Woolworths pasta salad (1x250g small tub)
Sat Fat 5g
4.McDonalds Healthy choice range
(Note an average meal would target 1500kJ in energy (for ladies) and a day total of fat would be around 40g (but from healthy fats not saturated fats) (for ladies) and sodium around 1500-2000mg.
To find out more "how much fat a day should I have", Catherine Saxelby has a good blog on this topic, as it does vary from person to person.
Usually made of chicken, lettuce, dressing, parmesan, croutons and bacon. Caesar dressing is actually made from oil and egg yolks and can have up to 450kj in just one tablespoon. And you can be certain there’s definitely more than that mixed in your salad. Bacon and cheese is very high in sodium and if you’re getting crumbed chicken in the salad the fat and energy content can increase dramatically. Keeping in mind too the only vegetable item in this salad is only the lettuce!
A better choice than a Caesar for sure. But in larger serves can be quite deceiving in the amount of fat salt and energy that’s provided. Pesto is usually liberally added and with full fat feta cheese it also brings a helping of saturated fat to the table. Often adding chicken is an option for these types of salads and this again pushes up the energy, equal to eating a bowl of chips.
3. “Not really a salad” Pasta salads
These are energy dense, usually with minimal vegetables, and covered in a creamy high fat sauce. Pasta salads are also easy to over indulge in as the body’s satiety cues are not as strong when consuming fat. I advise unless you are making it yourself - using a low fat or homemade dressing popping in multiple vegetables such as peas corns and carrot – avoid this option.
4. “Can be nasty” Crispy bacon and ranch salad
Here are the indicators this one is no good. “Crispy” means its most likely going to be a coated and fried product, bacon = salt, ranch = high fat dressing.
Ever thought this salad at McDonalds was healthier than a burger? This particular salad actually contains more cholesterol than a Big Mac!
Now don’t be put off by salads at all, they can be a great choice we just need to know a few salad savvy tips:
Choose a salad that has majority vegetable ingredients with a lean protein and balsamic and low fat dressing.
You can ask for the dressing to be served on the side so you’re in control of how much can be added.
You may have to opt for the smaller sizes at commercial outlets, or ask for extra added vegetable items such as chickpeas, roast pumpkin, tomato to bulk it up.
Avoid creamy dressings, pasta salads, cheesy salads
Choose garden or Greek salads with balsamic vinegar as a dressing and lean meats such as grilled chicken
Best of All Make the salad yourself! So you are aware of exactly what goes into it and how big the serve size is.