Dress Your Salad Healthy: when it comes to salad dressing, less is more

Assortment of salad dressings

The average salad dressing has over 20 ingredients; with a quarter of them typically being unpronounceable. Is that necessary? With far more calories and over double the sugar, what benefits are store-bought salad dressings lending us, besides a whole lot of extra filler? By creating your own concoctions, you can tailor them to fit your lifestyle. Whether you’re diabetic, gluten-free, or just eating clean, making your own dressings is a fabulous way to give new life to an old summer meal—while keeping health a priority.

Why bother dousing a healthy salad with unhealthy dressing?

There are a handful of ingredients that should be avoided in any salad dressing, and there are plenty of nutritious alternatives that can be used for making your own. So let’s start with a few ingredients to avoid:

1-      Titanium dioxide. Even the name sounds sketchy. Besides being classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogen to humans)[1], it has also been proven to cause respiratory tract issues, tumors, and other types of cell damage.[2]  Also, it’s not just found in salad dressing. It’s present in many toothpastes, gum, sunscreen, and shaving creams.[3] Awesome.

2-      Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). In other words, trans-fat. Trans-fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease,[4] and the Center for Disease Control urges that a “further reduction of trans fat in the food supply can prevent an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.”[5]

3-      High-fructose corn syrup. Besides the fact that almost 100% of this ingredient in genetically modified, corn syrup is extremely high on the glycemic index.[6] It’s an incredibly cheap sweetener,[7] and most processed food manufacturers love it because of that reason alone. It’s been proven to become addictive to regular consumers (rats display the same addictive behaviours to it as they do to cocaine),[8] and it’s just plain gaggy.

I’m literally gagging right now just thinking about it.

Now that we’ve identified some of the nastier ingredients found in commercial dressings, what are some ingredients that you can use to make healthy ones?

1-      Cold-pressed oils. Oils like olive, grapeseed, avocado, and hemp are great for using in salad dressings. Always avoid vegetable oil.

2-      Vinegar. Vinegars that are great to use include balsamic, white wine, red wine, and apple cider.

3-      Quality sweeteners. These include honey, maple syrup, agave, and brown rice. They are pure in ingredients, and lower on the glycemic index than (gag) high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

4-      Fresh herbs. These are what really make a salad dressing pop. You can use any and all, but my faves include Italian parsley, mint, basil, and cilantro.

Salad Dressing

Here’s one of my favorite recipes to get you started—my neighbor complimented me on it just yesterday. (Thanks, Marlene!) Its super easy to make, and stores well on your counter for up to 2 weeks. It makes about one cup.

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. maple syrup

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix together well and drizzle accordingly. Happy Friday, everyone!

For more recipes, check out my book, Happy Healthy Gut.


[1] http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html

[2] http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html

[3] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es204168d

[4] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm

[5] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2695593

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2695593

[8] http://www.healthline.com/health-news/tech-sugar-and-fat-may-be-as-addictive-as-cocaine-052213

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