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These Are the 3 Healthiest Salad Dressings

October 12, 2023

Whether it’s Wendy’s, Chili’s or Ruby Tuesday, plenty of restaurants have made headlines for their calorie-packed salads. And in many cases, the salad dressing takes the blame. But salad dressing doesn't have to be the least healthy part of your salad. “There’s no doubt that the salad dressing you choose can contribute unnecessary calories. But that doesn’t have to be the case,” says Jamie Allers, MS, a registered dietitian with Hartford HealthCare’s Digestive Health Institute. [insert-cta-small id=52397]

The right salad dressing can actually boost the health benefits.

It may come as a surprise, but Allers notes that in some cases, adding dressing can actually make a salad healthier. “Certain vitamins cannot be absorbed without fat,” says Allers. “That means that adding dressing may actually help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins found in your other salad ingredients, like vegetables and proteins.” So which salad dressings are the healthiest? > Related: Is Salad Actually a Healthy Choice?

1. (Almost) anything homemade.

The list kicks off with one of Allers’ go-tos – homemade dressing. “When in doubt, making your own is always the best option. Instead of scouring the ingredients list for additives, you can control what you use,” Allers says. “Try including fresh or dried herbs, your preferred type of vinegar, and your preferred oil. You can also add a little salt or sugar to taste.” And the customization doesn’t end there. If you like a creamy dressing, try adding Greek yogurt or avocado for healthy, natural fats. Or if you prefer a vinaigrette, consider adding your favorite citrus juice or zest for a pop of color. “I love a quick homemade vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon, fresh garlic and lots of oregano,” Allers notes. Want more health news? Text StartHere to 85209 to sign up for text alerts

2. Oil and vinegar.

In general, dressings with fewer ingredients tend to be healthier. And it doesn’t get any simpler than oil and vinegar. “This is a great option, because it won’t have any added sugar or salt,” says Allers. “But the type of oil is important. Opt for olive or avocado oil over an alternative like canola or soybean oil.” These healthy oils are packed with antioxidants, and can even help lower cholesterol.

3. Yogurt-based dressing.

If you thought creamy salad dressing had to be high in calories, think again. “Yogurt-based dressings can be a great opportunity to substitute a healthy ingredient for mayonnaise or oil-based alternatives,” says Allers. And that’s especially true for Greek yogurt. “Dressings made with Greek yogurt can add extra protein and calcium to your diet. They’ll also help you get your fix of creamy dressing, without the extra fat,” Allers says.

At the end of the day, there’s always room for your favorite dressing.

Disappointed that your favorite salad dressing didn’t make the list? Allers has a message for you. “The key is simply to prioritize healthy ingredients. Make sure you’re aware of what you’re putting on your salad,” she says. So before you order your next salad without any, just remember – that flavorful dressing could actually be good for your health.