Like it, Love it, Avoid it: Salad dressings

Happy Thursday everyone! The type of salad dressing to use with salads is one of the most frequent questions I get as a dietitian! On Tuesday, we talked about making healthier choices at a salad bar, so I thought I would continue our theme of salads and talk about our picks for the best grocery store salad dressings.

As you probably know, if you can make a dressing at home, it’s a healthier alternative than most store bought salad dressings – mostly because you can control exactly what ingredients go into your dressing. However, it is nice to have some ready made options available to use at home. Salads can either be a healthy option or be just as detrimental to our healthy lifestyles as a cheeseburger and french fries! And, the type of dressing you use definitely plays a role.

Love It


One of the most simple salad dressings available (and likely ingredients that we all keep in our pantry) is the mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. By drizzling these two items on a salad, you are adding flavor without saturated fat, excess sodium and sugar which are some of the biggest contributors to unhealthy salad dressing options on the market. Fortunately, most salad bars and buffets (including Sweet Tomatoes) provide olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing option — just be cautious of your portion size when pouring them out, especially the olive oil.

Like It


If creamy salad dressings are your downfall, you are in luck! Some of my favorite dressing options are the yogurt based salad dressings available on the market. In fact, many of the common types of dressings you would find on an aisle in the middle of the grocery store have yogurt based flavor equivalents. I have taste tested many of these dressings and have found the taste to be just as flavorful as the regular dressings! In fact, I may {wink, wink} have done a blind taste test on my husband to see if he noticed a difference between the two. He had no idea I was giving him a yogurt based one.

The nutritional makeup is noticeable when comparing yogurt based dressings to regular dressings. For instance, Bolthouse Farms’ Creamy Ranch dressing provides 45 calories per serving (2 Tbsp), 3 gm total fat, 0.5 gm saturated fat compared to Hidden Valley Ranch dressing: 140 calories per serving (2 Tbsp), 14 gm total fat, 2.5 gm saturated fat. Bolthouse Farms is probably the most famous brand of yogurt based dressings on the market, although there are other options available. You will find these yogurt based dressings on refrigerated shelves next to the salad lettuce.

Avoid It


When possible, avoid dressings from the middle of the grocery store. Many of them either provide too much fat or too much sugar that can be detrimental to our diets. If you must choose a dressing from the aisle, choose an oil based dressing versus cream based. Those dressings typically provide less total fat grams and sugar than the oil based. However, to be sure, always check your nutrition facts label. Also, be weary of light or fat free dressings. Where fat is removed, flavor is usually made up for with {most of the time} sugar. For instance, you might be shocked to look further at Ken’s Steak House brand Fat free Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. A 2 Tbsp serving provides 70 calories, but also provides 12 grams sugar with the first ingredient being high fructose corn syrup. That’s almost as much as sugar as what is in 2 fun size Snickers bars!

Talk to us! Have you tried yogurt based salad dressings before? Let us know what you think!


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