You’re at the salad bar, you have a beautiful bed of greens on your plate, and you want to keep it healthy. Here’s what to do.
Avoid adding these five foods to your salad:
1. Croutons. They may be small, but they’re typically filled with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The majority of croutons found in restaurants are also made of refined grains, which means all of the vitamins and protein have been stripped from them. Adding croutons also means adding calories, so opt for a slice of whole wheat bread or a whole wheat roll instead.
2. Sun-dried tomatoes. What you’re really adding to your salad is a ton of sodium. A half-cup can set you back almost 500 milligrams of sodium. Opt for fresh tomatoes instead.
3. Candied nuts. They’re often scattered on top of a salad with beets or blue cheese. And they taste so good — because they’re drenched in simple sugars! Candied nuts are also filled with fat, sodium, artificial colors, and flavors. So stick to unsalted, plain nuts like walnuts or almonds that contain healthy fats and will keep you full longer.
4. Tortilla strips or wonton noodles. Sure, they add great crunch to your salad, but they also add extra calories, sodium, and trans fats (they’re often fried in oil). Instead, go for peppers or carrots for a tasty crunch without all those calories and fat.
5. Shredded cheese. A sprinkle of cheese won’t hurt you, but many people throw on at least a half-cup, which can add up to a substantial number of calories. One cup of cheddar cheese has more calories and fat than a large serving of fries from McDonald’s! If you’re choosing cheese, pick a low-fat cheese and limit the portion size to the size of your thumb.