Salads are often considered a healthful food. However, it can actually become a food loaded with unintended calories, depending on the type of dressing you choose. Knowing which dressings are the healthiest will help you make more informed choices when dining out.
Oil and Vinegar
The best option for salad dressing in a restaurant is the one you have the most control over. Ask the server to bring you separate bottles of oil and vinegar. This allows you to choose how much you will add to your salad. Canola, peanut and extra-virgin olive oil are heart-healthy fats, and vinegar is virtually calorie-free.
The base of a vinaigrette is oil and vinegar. The difference between requesting oil and vinegar and ordering a vinaigrette is the control over the ingredients. Though relatively healthy, vinaigrettes may contain hidden ingredients, such as sugar disguised as corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup, contributing to the calorie content. Examples include balsamic vinaigrette, raspberry vinaigrette, honey mustard and Italian.
Creamy dressings typically contain ingredients like cream, mayonnaise or cheese, rendering them full of fat and calories. Avoid ranch, bleu cheese, Thousand Island, Russian and Caesar. Also steer clear of any dressings described as "creamy." There are many low-fat dressings that do not skimp on flavor; ask your server what options are available.
Ask for the dressing on the side. Drizzle a small amount over the vegetables at a time until they are lightly coated, or dip the salad into the dressing one fork-full at a time. Even if you order a healthy salad dressing, using a large quantity will still increase the calories. You may find you do not require the entire amount you are served.