Salads can be one of the best meals on the planet if you’re putting the right ingredients in them.  But often we get so focused on adding so many different things to the salads that we might end up with a few not-so-good salad ingredients.  Here are the four salad ingredients that are making your salad not quite as healthy as you thought.

Dried Cranberries

Cranberries do have a lot of health benefits to them (great phytonutrients, and protection against UTIs), but they can have a lot of added sugar.  One quarter cup of Ocean Spray dried cranberries has 18g of sugar!  It’s tough to put less than a quarter cup in, so instead opt for a fresh, low sugar fruit, like some diced apple or pear, or fresh blueberries.

Iceberg Lettuce

There is nothing wrong with iceberg lettuce, per se, but it is nowhere near as nutrient dense as other leafy greens like spinach, romaine, or kale.  With all foods, the deeper the colour, the better the nutrition.  Aim to go with greens that are darker in colour than iceberg.  Also, it’s great to rotate through a variety as each green has different qualities that it’s best known for. For example, romaine lettuce has 11x more Vitamin A than iceberg lettuce.  Kale, on the other hand, has 8x more Vitamin K than iceberg lettuce.

Packaged Salad Dressing

I’ve mentioned this before in 4 Foods You Thought Were Healthy, But Aren’t, but I think I can make my point in one sentence (ok, two).  Do you actually understand what each ingredient is on the back of the label? And, can you count the number of ingredients on one, or even two hands?  Didn’t think so.

Instead, try combining olive oil, apple cider vinegar (or balsamic), Dijon, tamari and a touch of honey.  Delicious, and only 5 ingredients.

Bacon Bits

More often than not, bacon bits that you haven’t cooked yourself are made from texturized soy protein.  Artificial flavour, natural flavour, and food colouring are other ingredients that commonly pop up on the label.  I don’t have a problem with humanely raised 100% bacon, but a great alternative altogether is avocado as it is a healthy fat, so gives the salad that satisfying flavour.

After all this salad talk, if you’re looking for some inspiration, here are my salad recipes!  Enjoy!

Mandy King is a Holistic Nutritionist and Gluten Free Guru who shares her expertise with She Does The City. For recipes and nutrition tips, visit her website, HEAL. Follow Mandy on Twitter@mandyking_HEAL. Like Healthy Eating and Living on Facebook here. You can also find Mandy on Pinterest and Instagram.