Salad is good for you, right? Low calorie roughage, healthy veggies … sounds healthy. Intentions are great, but guess what? If you add “regular” salad dressing, you might as well skip the salad and just eat the burger you really wanted. Salad dressings are a real nutritional trap.
Let’s look at restaurants. A typical salad dressing ladle holds 2 ounces, or 4 tablespoons of dressing. The average restaurant uses two ladles, or eight tablespoons of dressing on your salad.
Nutritionists and dietitians normally recommend only 2 tablespoons of dressing, which would be one half of one ladle. Remember, a typical restaurant is giving you FOUR TIMES as much. You’ll see, by the chart below, that the low-cal or fat-free dressings make a measurable difference in how your week stacks up, nutritionally.
Keep in mind that an average woman needs to hold her daily fat intake to less than 60 grams of fat, and a man, to less than 80 grams.
2 tablespoons of salad dressing
(my recommended portion)
• Ranch Regular -148 calories, 15.6 g fat (4x = over 60 g of fat in 2 ladles)
• Ranch Lite (low-fat) – 80 calories, 6 g fat
• Ranch Fat-Free – 48 calories, 0.3 g fat
• Creamy Italian – 110 calories, 12 g fat (4x = 48 g of fat in 2 ladles)
• Lite Italian – 50 calories, 5g fat
• Fat-free Italian – 20 calories, 0.3 g fat
• Balsamic Vinaigrette – 90 calories, 8 g fat (a better choice)
• Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette – 45 calories, 3.5 g fat
Bottom line: one salad, with two ladles of dressing, once a week, can easily be the equivalent of a whole day’s worth of fat intake. Ingest a little fat at breakfast and from your other meal, and that salad dressing can take you over your daily allotment – the exact opposite of your intentions.
Instead, ask for salad dressings “on the side” and order the “low-fat” version. Then either dip your fork or salad in the dressing rather than pouring it on. You’ll save hundreds – or thousands – of fat grams in a year.
How can you guesstimate the 2-tablespoon serving size I’m recommending? The top of your thumb is equal to about 1 tablespoon. A ping-pong ball or shot glass or an Oreo cookie is about 2 tablespoons. At that quantity, even the biggest offender – regular ranch – is only one fourth or less of your daily recommended fat allotment.
Restaurants average 10 cents in cost per 2 tablespoons of regular dressing. Two ladles is thus .40 cents worth; a 2-tablespoon serving on the side would save .30 per salad (and 45 g of fat, per salad, per customer).
If, for example, 94 restaurants implemented salad dressing awareness they could save customers 38,070,000 grams of FAT and $296,100.00 in just 30 days. One restaurant has potential quarterly savings of $9,450 (and saves its customers 1,215,000 grams of fat).