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Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Healthy Salad

By Sara Butler

Salads seem as if they're an easy go-to option for healthy eating when you're in a rush. After all, most stores have a salad bar from which you can create your very own mouthwatering salad and restaurants have a long list of salads they can prepare for you. While salads may have a healthy base, there's a lot that can go wrong between building a salad and eating one -- mistakes that can be detrimental to your healthy eating and wellness goals. Here are some ways you can easily ruin a salad's nutritional profile and what you should do instead.

Mistake No. 1: Iceberg, Straight Ahead!

If your perfect salad contains only iceberg lettuce, then you're already starting off at a nutritional disadvantage. Iceberg lettuce doesn't have much value to nutrition beyond being a great source of water. And to top it all off, it just doesn't have as many vitamins as its darker green cousins.

To keep it healthy, start with dark, leafy greens such as arugula, spinach, kale, or watercress. These alternatives have more Vitamin A, phytochemicals, minerals, and folate than iceberg lettuce can ever dream of.

Mistake No. 2: Piling on the Croutons

Croutons add some crunch but that's about it. One serving of croutons does add about 100 calories to your salad, though -- which is a lot for a half-cup of crunch.

If you want to add a little texture to your salad, then go for flax seeds or walnuts. These have the addition of providing omega-3 fatty acids to help you stay healthy and they're full of fiber, which helps your digestive system to say in tip-top shape.

Mistake No. 3: Too Much Cheese

Cheese is delicious, but you have to learn that a little needs to go a long way. Cheese is part of a healthy diet but it's also loaded with calories, fat, and sodium.

If you're a cheese lover who can't handle the thought of your salad going without it, then simply pay attention to how much you're adding. Remember, one serving of cheese is about the size of a pair of dice or your thumb from knuckle to tip. Use that as a gauge to limit how much cheese you're adding.

Mistake No. 4: Dressing Overload

Salad dressings are a minefield for your health. Two tablespoons of most dressings can add between 100 and 200 calories to your salad -- and most people don't add just two tablespoons!

You may want to get in the habit of forgetting the dressing and going for vinegar and oil or fresh lemon your salad instead of a heavy, creamy dressing. And if you're eating out, always ask for the dressing on the side.

Salads can be great for you -- as long as you don't go overboard!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Greenwood Village, Colo.

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