As a dietitian, I often hear clients tell me they went out to eat and proudly ordered a salad while they watched their spouse scarf down a decadent chicken pasta or double cheeseburger.
Let’s get one thing straight. Despite its “health-food” appearance, salads you find at restaurants can be loaded with salt, saturated fat, calories, and even sugar
Here are three not-so-healthy salads you may want to avoid the next time you dine out.
Even I was surprised to find out that this salad has 9 grams of saturated fat (about half of our recommended daily intake), 1,350 milligrams of sodium (more than half of our recommended daily intake), and the biggest shocker — 40 grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar! About the same amount of sugar in a can of Coca Cola.
[Photo: Earl’s Kitchen + Bar]
Chicken, greens and beans sound pretty healthy but with loads of dressing and cheese this salad contains 15 g of saturated fat and 2,100 mg of sodium — just shy of hitting our daily intake limit. It also has 23 g or about 6 teaspoons of sugar and 58 g of protein, a lot more than the typical person needs in one meal.
[Photo: Cactus Club]
Lets get straight to the point with this one. This salad has 960 calories! To put that in perspective, a Big Mac has 520 calories.
In addition, it’s 69 g of protein could meet some people’s entire daily protein needs in one sitting. But why not just get all my protein at once? Well, protein may be utilized more efficiently in the body when spread out through the day (and not when eaten in one huge chunk).
Finally, it also contains 14 g of saturated fat — that’s almost all the saturated fat one would need in a day — and 3140 milligrams of sodium, about 1.4 times the maximum amount of sodium we should eat per day.
Now, before you reach for the fried chicken or french fries, this doesn’t mean all salads are bad for you. Simply back up on the high-sodium and high-calorie ingredients like sour cream and cheese, and ask for your dressing on the side. It’s ok to indulge in the above on occasion but if you eat out regularly, perhaps opt to not have it each time. Take the time to understand what’s going into your body and review nutrition information online.
Or enjoy your vegetables in a different way — I like mine baked, boiled, sautéed and sometimes I’ll throw in some frozen veggies into whatever chicken or fish dish I’m cooking to save time and meet my daily quota.
That said, when you’re dining out keep in mind that not all salads are made equal.