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How to Ruin a Healthy Salad

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Updated February 01, 2014

A typical green salad is good for you. Here's how's to ruin it.

Using Only Iceberg lettuce

Iceberg lettuce has a nice crunch, but almost no nutritional value beyond being a source of water. Use a variety of darker greens like spinach, leaf lettuce, arugula, dandelion greens, kale, watercress and basil leaves. The darker the leaves the better -- they're richer in folate, minerals and phytochemicals.

Using Lots of Croutons and Bacon Bits

These extra toppings don't add any nutritional value, but they can add a lot of calories. One-half cup of croutons has about 100 calories and bacon bits are loaded with fat and artificial ingredients. There are better ways to add crunch to your salad. A tablespoon or two of chopped walnuts or flax seeds have omega-3 fatty acids for your heart and nervous system, plus they have fiber, which your body needs for a healthy digestive system.

Adding Extra Cheese

Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, but pay attention to how much cheese you are using. A serving of cheese is about one and one-half ounces - or about the size of a pair of dice. You can also use vegetarian cheese substitutes made from rice or soy.

Adding Fried and Processed Meats

Adding slices of cooked chicken breast can transform a salad into a full-fledged meal. However, adding three deep-fried chicken strips to a salad will turn a healthy salad into a health-disaster. Deep fried meats add extra fat and lots of calories. Another health-busting idea is to add several slices of processed sandwich meats, which have been associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

Drenching Your Salad With Dressing

Salads are usually topped with dressing, but a serving of salad dressing is only two tablespoons, and has 100 to 200 calories per serving. Forgo the salad dressing and squeeze some fresh lemon and lime juice on your salad, or use some salsa as a topping.

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