When you think of the word salad, you think “healthy meal.” While the perfect salad has the right combination of nutrient-rich vegetables and proteins, one wrong ingredient move can make your healthy plate a diet killer. Whether it’s toppings or dressings, your salad can quickly become filled with extra calories and unnecessary grams of sugar and fat, making your so-called health conscience meal equivalent to a cheeseburger and french fries.

Are you unsure if your favorite salad is unhealthy? Well, fear not! Follow this Salad Survival Guide and you know you’ll be eating your salads the right way!

Salad Base

Avoid:

  • Iceberg Lettuce: It’s not bad for you, but it’s the least healthy of the salad lettuces. Its high water content makes a low nutrient content. If you have to have it, mix it in with darker and healthier greens.

Try This:

  • Spinach: Spinach is the greenest, darkest lettuce and bursts with vitamins and nutrients, like folate, that helps ward-off mental decline, and beta-carotene, that protects your skin and eyes.
  • Romaine: Compared to iceberg, romaine contains three times more folate, six times more vitamin C and eight times the beta-carotene.

Vegetable Toppings

Avoid:

  • Corn: Don’t invest your calories on corn. There are so many more superior nutrition-rich vegetables out there.
  • Green Peppers: They aren’t a diet destroyer, but they only have half the Vitamin C as their red and yellow counterparts.

Try This:

  • Tomatoes: Full of lycopene, which reduces the risk of cancer, tomatoes also provide vitamins A, C and K.
  • Carrots: They’re sweet, crunchy and boost your vision!
  • Beets: This scarlet vegetable helps lower blood pressure, maintain your memory and fight cancer.

Protein

Avoid:

  • Bacon: If you have to have it, use sparingly. One strip is 40 calories and less than 200 milligrams of sodium. A pinch is okay, but a handful of bacon bits is not.
  • Avocados: While they provide a ton of heart-healthy fats, it doesn’t mean they still won’t make you fat.
  • Walnuts: Sure, they have a ton of antioxidants, but they also have a ton of calories!

Try This:

  • Chicken: Chicken is the leanest protein, and it will make your salad filling. Keep in mind that a healthy portion is the size of a deck of cards.
  • Tuna: Instead of having your tuna swimming in mayo, throw some on your salad! It will provide protein and heart-helping omega-3 fats without the heavy calorie content.
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