Monitor the health of your community here

10 Salad Toppings to Avoid If You Want to Lose Weight

Avoid These Salad Toppings

Cruciferous, fresh and filling — salads are a go-to meal for many health-conscious diners. And why not? Salads are more versatile than the sandwich, and you can do just about anything with them. In fact, there are as many variations of the salad as there are people eating them. But sometimes we customize our salads too much, going from lean and green to processed and mean. But not to worry! We've found healthier, low-calorie replacements for the worst toppings you can put on a salad if you're trying to slim down.

Banish the Balsamic Vinegar

Authentic balsamic vinegar is about as healthy as a salad topping can get. However, traditional balsamics are aged for at least 12 years, and they're expensive. Most varieties of balsamic that are priced as your everyday-style vinegars are full of added sugars, coloring agents and thickeners — all of which add calories and unwanted processed food chemicals. Instead of franken-vinegars, make your own dressing at home with quality balsamic, or skip it entirely and heap a tablespoon of quality fat like avocado oil onto your greens.

Abandon Anything from a Can

Calories in Meat Lasagna

Learn More

From chickpeas to mandarin oranges, canned produce is chock-full of preservatives, added sugars and sodium. Plus, many containers have been coated with chemicals like BPAs and PFOAs that have been known to cause cancers and thyroid issues. Leave the canned toppings on the shelf and pile your plate high with fresh vegetables instead.

Dump the Deli Meats

Most people love a chef salad because turkey on top of vegetables is awesome! A little added protein amongst your greens is encouraged, but deli meats are lousy with preservatives, added sodium and nitrates (which can lead to colorectal cancer and other maladies, according to the World Health Organization). Instead, look for grass-fed, hormone-free proteins to help keep you full and build those muscles!

Ditch Dried Fruits

What Can I Use Instead of Cream of Chicken in a Casserole?

Learn More

Fresh fruit is a delight, but dried fruits become calorically dense during the dehydration process and often contain added sugars and fats. Make your salad sparkle by adding a few organic berries and apple wedges.

Refuse Those Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are a blessing! Not only are they delicious, but many chefs and nutritionists extol the virtues of charred veggies. However, unless you roast those eggplant slices and potatoes yourself, you never know what type of fat they've been roasted with. Many salad bars and restaurants use cheap ingredients to keep costs down, and that cauliflower may have soaked up several tablespoons of harmful vegetable or palm oils — which are suspected of causing cancers, autoimmune disorders and inflammation. Roast those vegetables at home or replace them with fresh cuts of bell pepper and broccoli.

Chuck the Crunchy Things

Croutons, tortilla chip strips and crunchy wonton noodles are void of nutrients and high in both calories and fat. They are delicious, but it's pretty much a no-brainer for health-conscious consumers to leave behind the empty calories. If you're really craving a little visit to carb town, you're better off having a slice of whole wheat bread instead.

Fling Those Fat-Free Dressings to the Floor

Big food companies lure consumers to the fat-free dressing section of the grocery store with the promise of big taste with little guilt. The reality is that these dressings are highly processed and frequently contain chemicals and flavorings that make fat free more myth than magic. Make your own dressing at home with quality ingredients. It saves you money, and helps you become a more active participant in your weight-loss goals.

Scrap the Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seed are excellent sources of plant proteins, but they're often roasted or baked with vegetable oils and salts. Vegetable oils, of course, are the suspected culprit of a whole host of health issues including cancers, hormonal disorders, and excessive sodium which leads to blood pressure problems for millions of Americans. Scrap the roasted nuts and seeds and reach for raw, unsalted versions instead. Give the sprouted varietals a try as well because they come without enzyme inhibitors and make the nutrients easier to digest.

Just Say, "No Cheese!"

While cheese typically contains healthy fats, it's almost made entirely of fat. Plus, it's just about as calorically dense as a salad topping can get. Sorry, but if you're hoping to drop a few pounds and lower your daily fat intake, then just say no to cheese. If you're not suffering cholesterol issues, then try popping a sliced hard-boiled egg on your salad for a creamy texture and a healthy blast of protein.

Big Portions Are Problematic

Moderates believe that nothing is horrible in the right amounts, and they're probably correct. But even a healthy salad has a caloric profile and eating too much in one sitting runs counter to your weight loss goals. Be sure to balance the macronutrients in your salad with a ratio of 40% carbohydrates (from veggies and fruits, please), 30% proteins and 30% healthy fats. Your waistline will thank you!