Whether you're watching your weight, tracking your health goals, or simply trying to add a few more health-conscious meals to your diet, salad is the one food that we seem to think we can overeat without consequence. For the most part, this is true: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and celery are good-for-you veggies that likely won't put you over your daily calorie count.
But the tastiest salads often contain fun additives that will pack on calories and fat if we're not careful. While you are certainly doing your health a big favor by trading in croutons (filled with empty calories) for vitamin-rich nuts, this topping should be used sparingly.
"Nuts are filled with healthy unsaturated fats, but if you’re grabbing handfuls at a time you can be downing tons of extra calories," says Toby Amidor, a registered nutritionist and dietitian and the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. "For example, one ounce of almonds (23 almonds) contains 162 calories and 14 grams of fat. Eat 4-5 handfuls will give you about 4-5 ounces and hundreds of extra calories."
Of course, you may be wondering about salad dressing. Amidor says another common salad problem can happen when we pour too much oil on our otherwise healthy meal.
“With 120 calories per ANY tablespoon of oil, if you are using 1 cup of oil in a salad dressing that serves four that’s 480 calories EXTRA per person just from the oil that is just not necessary,” Amidor says.
When in doubt, fill your salad bowl with veggies and fruit and then go easy with added fats — no matter how much delicious flavor they pack.