Taste Test: Healthy Salad Dressings
Many salad dressings have added sugar (yes, sugar!) and lots of sodium. Although many tend to have preservatives, some dressings contain fewer. If you like the convenience of bottled salad dressings, make sure you’re choosing the healthiest option. Here’s a rundown of better-for-you best bets.
Vinaigrette dressings are typically recommended because they are lower in fat and calories. They’re normally a combination of oil and vinegar, plus herbs, spices or other flavors. Here are three that get a thumbs up:
Bolthouse does a nice job with this classic vinaigrette, adding an extra zing of flavor from pineapple juice and red bell peppers.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): Calories 30; Fat 0 g; Sodium 150 mg; Sugars 5 g
A combination of apple cider vinegar and canola or sunflower oil is the base of this vinaigrette. To help balance the tart flavor of raspberries, a touch of honey and cane sugar are added. The sodium is also very low, especially for a dressing.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): Calories 40; Fat 3 g; Sodium 55 mg; Sugars 4 g
The base of this gluten-free dressing is white balsamic vinegar and non-GMO sunflower oil. The vinaigrette is flavored with fun green ingredients, including avocados, salsa verde and even a splash of green tea. Both the sugar and sodium are low, and the additives are kept to a minimum (only one).
Per serving (2 tablespoons): Calories 60; Fat 5 g; Sodium 210 mg; Sugars 2 g
It’s tougher to get lower numbers, especially for calories and sodium, in creamy dressings. Flavorful high-calorie and high-sodium ingredients are rampant. Here are three creamy dressings that can be healthier options.
This favorite of adults and kids is gluten-free. Do note that it does contain a few harmless preservatives that prevent bacterial growth and allow the dressing to be shelf stable. The sugar per serving is minimal, while the sodium is higher than many due to the buttermilk and salt.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): Calories 80; Fat 7 g; Sodium 260 mg; Sugars 2 g
Natural honey and Creole mustard complement each other in this bottle of goodness. The calorie count is pretty decent for a creamy dressing, but the sodium is on the higher end. As long as your salad isn’t topped with salty ingredients like olives, pickles or salty nuts, your overall sodium should stay under control.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): Calories 70; Fat 4 g; Sodium 240 mg; Sugars 5 g
Marie’s uses xanthan gum, which is considered a safe thickener and typically used in lower-fat dressings. This dressing has the highest amount of sodium due to the inclusion of blue cheese. Compared to a full-fat blue cheese dressing, though, it’s a much better overall option.
Per serving (2 tablespoons): Calories 70; Fat 7 g; Sodium 290 mg; Sugars 1 g
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.