Simple Steps to a Healthier Salad

Your favorite summer lunch may be a high-fat, high-calorie meal in disguise. Do you know what to pile on your plate and what to leave behind?
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Cut the Calories

More women choose salad for lunch than any other food, according to a study by the National Restaurant Association. But not all salads are created equal: When LHJ checked in with two national restaurant chains that feature salad bars, the most popular items included cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese and hard-boiled eggs. While tomatoes and red onions were also in the top five, dark, leafy greens -- the foundation for the healthiest salads -- didn't make the list. Add a heaping helping of bacon bits or Chinese noodles plus lots of dressing, and your lunchtime fare may be higher in fat and calories than a burger with the works. Here's a guide to help you make a healthy -- and tasty -- salad.

Salad fixings: The empty calories

Iceberg lettuce: It pales in comparison to other leafy greens and won't fill you up for the long haul -- 1 and 1/2 cups have only 1 g of fiber (experts say you should get 25 to 35 g per day).

Cucumbers: You're getting mostly water here: Half a cup has only a tiny amount of folate and a minimal amount of vitamin A.

Mushrooms: They may add a satisfying, meaty flavor to your salad, but they lack nutritional value -- 1/2 cup has no fiber, only 5 percent of the RDA of potassium and less than 10 percent of Vitamin D.

Olives: Stick to black. Five green olives have a whopping 468 mg of sodium; whereas, 5 black olives have only 145 mg.

Red onions: There's no reason to suffer onion breath: One fourth cup has a scant 15 calories and little else, except some potassium and a teeny bit of vitamin C.

Marinated artichoke hearts: Two hearts contain 55 mg of potassium and just 1 g of fiber. Since they are often soaked in oil, take just a few.

Radishes: They have few calories -- and few nutrients. If you like a peppery taste, go ahead and pile them on; if not, don't feel guilty skipping them.

Continued on page 2:  Simple Steps to a Healthier Salad


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