By now we’re all well aware that sugar hides in some rather obscure locations. I don’t know about you, but I always thought of salad as guaranteed safe space. Would it surprise you to hear that your salad may contain as much sugar as 3 donuts? I’ve reviewed some top ‘healthy’ salad dressing picks to see how their sugar counts stand up to Dunkin’ Donuts.
Let’s take a look…
Sugar equivalents of popular salad dressing choices: All figures assume 2 Tablespoons dressing. All figures assume sugar raised Dunkin’ Donuts. All figures courtesy of My Fitness Pal.
Newman’s Own light balsamic = 1/2 donut Newman’s Own low fat sesame = 1 donut Kraft fat free 1000 island = 1 donut Annie’s light raspberry vinaigrette = 1 donut Brianna’s creamy balsamic = 1 donut Brianna’s poppyseed (gluten + dairy-free) = 2 donuts Brianna’s honey mustard = 2 donuts Brianna’s strawberry vinaigrette = 3 donuts
If we’re simply considering sugar count, I would reach for Newman’s Own balsamic (which didn’t even make 1/4 donut count). However, keep in mind that the first ingredient is still vegetable oil blend (canola, soybean and olive oil). The same is true for Newman’s traditional Oil and Vinegar and many other brands on the market.
What’s the deal with canola oil?
Canola oil aka rapeseed oil is derived from the seeds of the rape or rapeseed plant. As of 2005, 87% of Canola oil grown in the U.S. was genetically modified.
“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. ” ― Michael Pollan
Aside from the unfavorable appeal of genetic modification, canola oil is a refined oil that’s usually partially hydrogenated. Hydrogenation, complete or partial, is a chemical process in which hydrogen is added to liquid oils to turn them into a solid form. Partially hydrogenated fat molecules have trans fats, and trans fats are likely the worst type of fat you can consume.
Hydrogenated fats (trans fats) have been linked to:
Raising bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lowering good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Increased risk of developing heart disease.
Increased risk of suffering from a stroke.
Heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
So why create products using partially hydrogenated fat? Because they’re inexpensive to produce, maintain radical shelf-life and are appealing to the palate.
The bottom line:
Most store-bought dressings are composed predominantly of canola oil, which contains trans fats.
The majority contain additives and preservatives to maintain color, consistency and shelf-life.
Most are high in sugar- this is especially true of fruit vinaigrettes, low-fat, and light varietals.
While there are some healthy homemade brands cropping up in the produce section of health food stores, I have yet to find one that is widely distributed.
If you are reaching for a store-bought brand I’d recommend examining the sugar count (2g of sugar or less is ideal), as well as the ingredients list.
Or better yet, make it yourself.
The easiest option. Drizzle extra virgin organic olive oil and choice acid (red wine vin, balsamic vin, apple cider vin, lemon, lime). Sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Almost as easy. Homemade mustard vinaigrette Ingredients 2 TBL olive oil 2 TBL balsamic vinegar 1 TBL Maile (not whole seed) mustard I use Maile brand because it’s unadulterated, widely distributed and has optimal taste and texture.
Instructions Shake ingredients together.
Feeling creative? Homemade vanilla bean vinaigrette Ingredients 1 5″ vanilla bean pod or 1 tsp fresh ground vanilla bean 2 TBL fresh lemon juice 1/2 TBL lemon zest 1 TBL champagne vinegar 1 tsp honey or organic maple syrup 4 TBL extra virgin olive oil Pinch sea salt
Instructions Split and scrape pod. Add lemon juice, zest, vinegar and honey. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified. Add sea salt to taste.