The subject of commercial salad dressings is a tough one since they are so popular (and delicious!), but unfortunately not always very nutritionally sound. I have to admit that I’m quite picky and generally use a good amount of dressing on salads to make them enjoyable. Basically what I’m trying to do right now is phase out all of the salad dressings in my fridge and replace them with healthier options, even if this means they won’t store quite as long.
The reason I am doing this is that even when seeking out the best quality salad dressings at regular grocery stores, I have been unable to find ones using truly healthy oils such as olive, flax, or even coconut. Canola and soybean oils seem to be the less expensive staples of commercial salad dressings and remember that if you see hydrogenated oils, these are even worse for your health as they are highly and unnaturally processed).
I did see a refrigerated bottle at the store yesterday claiming on the front to be made with olive oil only to check the ingredients and see canola listed first and olive oil further down the list. That’s why it is so important to always take the time to look at the ingredients list for anything you buy!
In addition to the oils in commercial salad dressings, there are a number of other unhealthy ingredients that can also be lurking around. For example, many contain the illusive high fructose corn syrup that we have explored in the past as well as artificial colors and flavors (like MSG hiding in descriptions such as natural flavors and spices). These ingredients are all especially common in the lesser quality and cheaper bottles of dressing.
Another point worth noting is that fat free dressings aren’t always necessarily healthier. In fact, according to Natural News, studies have shown that fat free dressings are actually less beneficial nutritionally as dietary fat helps with the absorption of phytonutrients and vitamins from certain vegetables including spinach, lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes. I would hate to miss out on any of the nutrients as that is why I try to eat salads in the first place!
For alternatives to commercial dressings, stay tuned this week as the Sunday Chef will be sharing a number of healthy, homemade salad dressings that can be whipped up quickly with basic ingredients. Hopefully these will soon be the only types in my fridge!