Whenever you think of going on a weight-loss journey, salads inevitably come to mind. And that is good -you just have to remember that not all salads are created equal.
The next time you grab one for lunch, make sure you avoid these six unhealthy ingredients.
Chock-full of fat, sodium or sugar, these add-ons are ruining your salad faster than you can say "vegetable".
Croutons add a crunch to your salad, but these cubed and seasoned pieces of bread sadly fall into the "empty calorie" department since they don't really have much else going for them nutrition-wise.
If you like your veggie bowl to have more bite, opt for roasted nuts, pomegranate seeds or bell peppers instead.
Rich, creamy dressings such as ranch, Caesar, thousand island, blue cheese or honey mustard are often calorie bombs.
Case in point: Two tablespoons of ranch dressing pack 146kcal, and two tablespoons of honey mustard dressing stand at 139kcal - bad news if you are looking to shed those extra kilos.
If you are really craving a taste of that creaminess, try adding in avocados, hummus or a sprinkle of cheese.
When choosing a salad dressing, you should also be wary of the stuff that are labelled "fat-free". Often, these dressings are laden with salt and sugar to make them tastier.
A small-scale study previously published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found that your body needs a small amount of dietary fat to absorb certain nutrients from vegetables such as lycopene and beta-carotene.
If you prefer a more natural dressing, pick something lighter such as olive oil with balsamic vinegar. Olive oil contains healthy fat that can be good for you when eaten in moderation.
Looking to add some sweetness to your salad? Pick fresh fruit over their dried counterparts.
Dried fruits such as raisin or cranberry add unnecessary sugar to your meal.
When these fruits are dehydrated, they lose water and end up being energy-dense.
When ingested in bigger amounts, they can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Since they are so small, one serving of dried fruits also tends to contain more sugar than a serving of fresh fruit.
Sure, crunchy bacon bits or smoked ham slices can make your salad a whole lot tastier, but the calories and sodium you get from them are not doing you any good.
It is a good idea to top your salad with protein so that it makes for a more balanced meal, but stick to more nutritious choices such as grilled salmon, chicken breast or hard-boiled egg.
Natural, dry-roasted nuts can be a wholesome addition to your salad, but steer clear of the candied varieties (those that are glazed over with sugar). On their own, nuts are already pretty calorie-dense so you do not want to pile on added calories.
Some of the best nuts you can add to your salad include heart-healthy almond and walnut.
Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.