If you are eating salad every day for lunch and dinner in hopes of shedding pounds, you may not be eating as healthy as you think. Salads can have upwards of 1,000 calories and more than 65g of fat. That is more calories and fat than a fast food burger and fries.

According to Chelsey Millstone, Corporate Dietitian and Nutritionist for Medi-Weightloss®, salad doesn’t necessarily equal nutritious. For instance, a single-serving of a Taco Bell® taco salad is 906 calories and 49g of fat.

"It is important to realize what makes or breaks the nutritious value and benefits of a salad. Not all are created equal, by any means,” Millstone says.

She says there are three keys to keeping a salad healthy.

  • The type and quality of the lettuce. Although lettuce is primarily water, it does contain some nutrients. For the most nutritious lettuce, stick with dark green leafy varieties and Romaine.
  • Additions to the salad such as cheese, meat, fish, vegetables or fruit. The additional items in a salad can be the difference between nutritious and not so healthy. A healthy salad can include vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower; fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mandarin-oranges slices, pineapple, and kiwi; no-salt almonds, pine nuts, and walnuts for omega-3 benefits; and low-fat protein sources such as chicken, fish, egg whites, and lean cuts of meat. The nutritional value of many salads is ruined by piling on high-fat cheese, red meat, and breaded and deep-fried toppings such as croutons.
  • The variety and quantity of the dressing. The single, biggest factor to a healthy salad is the dressing. The majority of people are using too much of the wrong types of dressings. For instance, a 2 Tbsp serving of Wishbone® Chunky Blue Cheese dressing contains 150 calories and 15g fat. Even light varieties can be misleading. For the same 2 Tbsp serving size, Newman’s Own® Light Balsamic dressing has 45 calories, 4g fat and 2g sugar; Kraft® Light House Italian dressing has 50 calories, 3.5g fat and 2g sugar; and Wishbone® Light Asian with Sesame & Ginger Vinaigrette has 70 calories, 5g fat and 5g sugar.

Medi-Weightloss® offers its own brand of salad dressings. For the 2 Tbsp serving size, its dressings have 15 to 25 calories and each contains 0g fat and 0g sugar. The three varieties — Parmesan Peppercorn, Sesame Ginger, and Hot & Sour Dipping Sauce — do not require refrigeration and are sold in boxes of 12, individually sealed cups for on-the-go portion control. They are available for purchase online at Medi-Weightloss Clinics® Shopping Cart or in the more than 80 Medi-Weightloss® locations across the nation.