Your Salad Is Not As Healthy As You Might Think

Don’t go swimming with a full stomach – we’ve all heard that sentence. That’s why we opt for light and fresh summer salads when at a lake, pool, or eating lunch at the seaside. Plus, for summer we want to have a sexy summer body, which leads us to choose healthy foods. However, the colorful, low-calorie salad might appear as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It often not only contains fresh vitamins, but also an extra portion of calories…


1. Croutons

The little cubes of toasted white bread are soaked in fat. Four tablespoons of them contain approx. 200 calories!
Tip: Order your salad without croutons when at a restaurant. For home-made salads, prepare them yourself: cut whole grain bread into cubes, toss them with a teaspoon of olive oil, then bake at 200°C / 390°F for about 5 minutes.

2. Cheese

Careful with cheeses with more than 45% fat (in dry matter), like brie, or camembert.
Tip: Opt for cheese types like mozzarella, feta, or semi-hard cheeses, and control the amount you add. 70g per portion are enough.

3. Cold cuts

Deli meats are often added – and are sometimes even a salad’s main ingredient. Keep in mind that sausage salad doesn’t really count as a salad anymore.
Tip: Use cold cuts as a topping, but not as a main ingredient for your salads. Best choice: ham. Just like with cheese, 70g per portion is sufficient.


4. Bread

A piece of fresh bread to accompany your salad… sounds yummy, right? However, if it’s French bread with garlic butter, white bread with olive oil, or pizza bread with chili oil, you’ll end up with some extra calories.
Tip: Eat your salad with 2 slices of bread, or 1 bread roll – and choose whole grain, if possible.

5. Nuts & seeds

Pimp your salads with nuts and seeds (e.g. chia seeds). They contain protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids. But be careful, those fatty acids come with calories.
Tip: 2 tablespoons are enough to add some crunchiness.

6. Antipasti

The Italian delicacies count as vegetable sides, right? Well… they sure contain veggies, but also lots and lots of oil!
Tip: Drain the tomatoes, eggplant, or zucchini well before enjoying them.

7. Olives

These tasty fruits contain lots of (healthy) fats and, therefore, have a high caloric value.
Tip: Opt for olives without stuffing, and don’t add more than 5 to top your salad.


8. Tuna

Tuna is a common addition to leafy salads and provides lots of protein. Make sure you don’t overdo it though to save some calories.
Tip: If you use canned tuna, choose the natural version and not the one with oil.

9. Pasta salad

Pasta salad shouldn’t be called a “salad” as it mainly contains carbs (pasta) and fat (mayonnaise). Ready-made pasta salads are especially real calorie bombs.
Tip: Prepare your own version with approx. 80g (raw) whole grain noodles, 2 handfuls of vegetables and one portion protein, e.g. 70g ham, 70g cheese, or 1 can tuna. Dress with yogurt instead of mayo.

10. Potato salad

Potatoes provide vitamins and protein, but also carbohydrates – and in the form of a salad, they come with a high-calorie dressing. Therefore, enjoy potato salad only as a side.
Tip: Make your own potato salad and do without mayonnaise. Reduce the carbs in your salad to 3 medium-sized potatoes.

11. Fried protein sources

You like fried prawns, or chicken on your salad? Careful – fried meat, or fish contain 3 times as many calories as natural fish or chicken pieces.
Tip: Order the natural, not the breaded, fried version.

12. Dressing

Sometimes it’s the dressing that turns a healthy salad into a high-calorie meal. Ready-made dressings from the supermarket, or restaurant often contain up to 10g fat per serving, as they’re made of cream, crème fraîche, or mayonnaise. This converts even leafy green salads into calorie bombs.
Tip: In most restaurants, you’ll find vinegar and oil on the tables. Order your salad without dressing, then dress it yourself, or ask for the dressing to be served separately, then add just a bit.
At home, mix mustard, vinegar, herbs, yogurt and a little oil. If you like a fresh taste, choose lemon, or lime juice instead of vinegar for your dressing.

Focus on the little things the next time you order (or make) a salad. Do you know any other toppings that add hidden calories to your salad? I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

Bye for now,


Vera Schwaiger Vera studied dietetics & psychotherapy. She lives her life according to what Einstein once said: "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." View all posts by Vera Schwaiger