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When people start dieting, they tend to start ordering salads more often when they eat out. 90% of salads are unfortunately not any healthier than the other dishes on the menu.

One has to see carefully that what goes into making the salad. Several readers will be surprised to know that salads that are served in restaurants and cafes are likely to include a range of high-calorie additives, such as thick, creamy dressings, canned fruits, and croutons. Commercially served salads are hence likely to be high-calorie foods in all likelihood. They do make a good alternative to have when one dines out, but they may not necessarily be a low-calorie dish.

Do salads make a feasible alternative for meal replacement?

As a trend, people who prefer consuming healthier foods try and make sure that they order salads when they dine out or order food from outside. It is broadly seen that people who order salads primarily do so because of their health-related concerns. They may adore the taste, but the culinary value of salads is seldom the reason why people order salads.

Salads are rich in fibers and micronutrients, which makes them good for our health. But replacing meals with salads may not be a great idea, because salads lack in proteins. 

One should try and make sure that his diet is not lagging in the proteins. When this occurs, one may develop a protein deficiency over the long term. Proteins are essential for each of our regulatory functions. So replacing meals with salads every once in a while may be okay. But one should not make it a habit.

One of the prime reasons why people sometimes replace meals with salads is because they are attempting to reduce their caloric intake. But one should recognize that calories make an important part of the diet. A certain number of calories should necessarily form a part of our diet and enables the body to effectively perform its functions. 

In several cases, the people who want to start dieting replace all their meals with salads. They have the opinion that eating less will make it easier for them to lose weight. But one should recognize that there is a difference between eating less and starving oneself. 

Just as an instance, if one consumes a salad made using cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and a blob of cream, it will slow down the metabolism. Over the long term, this makes the dish counterproductive in terms of losing weight. Instead of losing weight, slow metabolism may result in one gaining more weight over the long term. 

Basic and fancy salad recipes

A basic salad recipe will comprise of carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and veggies such as leafy greens. It’s a safe meal to have and does not add excess calories in one’s diet. But it may be difficult to find too many takers for a plain salad.

Consumers instead prefer to go for salads that have something fancy to offer for the platter. They will prefer that their salads have croutons or stale fried bread, canned fruits that tend to be sugar-laden or creamy dressings, which have a lot more calories than the entire salad put together. Similarly, when one adds fried noodles to a salad, they become calorie-rich. Anyone suffering from a cardiovascular disorder should make additional efforts to avoid fried foods. Fancy salads fall in the same category.

Excessive cheese is another ingredient that one should try and avoid in salads, to make sure that its calorie count stays manageable.

However, as a trend, consumers are seldom concerned regarding the dressings over a salad. It is however preferable if they take a closer look over what goes into making the salad.

The salads served at restaurants tend to have excessive preservatives, additives, sodium, salt, and oil. So a salad that is generically considered to be healthy may have unhealthy preservatives in excess and is likely to be calorie-dense.

Bringing the issue before consumers, however, is best defined as difficult. As a trend, eateries make a range of salads available for consumers which may not be as healthy as they are perceived to be. One of the most important factors that make the salads unhealthy is the high-calorie dressings, including mayonnaise, cheese, and thick cream. A consumer should be aware that if he is aiming at reducing the calorie count in the dishes that he consumes, a fancy salad may not stand to do the needful. 

An ideal recipe for a healthy salad should involve fresh and crunchy produce. The toppings should be limited to some spices and a low-calorie oil.

The calorie content of a salad should cross a consumer’s mind before he orders it. Running through the description in the restaurant menu should help. 

Just as an instance, consuming a salad that involves fried chicken dressed in mayonnaise may not work for one from a health point of view. Instead, one should go for a salad which includes vegetables and fruits, along with leafy greens such as broccoli, cabbage, and spinach. One may choose to add in bell peppers to the salad, along with beans, baby tomatoes, and grilled chicken or fish. Any kind of meat cooked in healthy oil again makes a preferable addition to a salad.

Someone who is looking to lose weight can be benefited in particular by keeping a tab on what goes behind making a salad. A salad that they go for should include quality proteins and healthy fats, along with complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods. Instead, if a salad includes low-calorie lettuce topped up with high-calorie dressings such as mayonnaise, it is difficult to see it meet any health goals effectively.

Hygiene is another factor that a consumer should keep in mind when he orders a salad. It is preferable to prepare and consume salads at home. Salads that are not cooked properly could be a potential source of infection. It is then a fine idea to ensure that the product one sources from outside is prepared using all safety standards, and is clean.