Now that we are in the midst of a paleo challenge hopefully lots of folks are trying to clean up their diet and incorporate more nutrient dense and healthy foods into their diet. One thing that people often try to do is add more vegetables, including salads, into their meals. While some “paleo skeptics” or others without a deep understanding of the diet, knock on the paleo diet for being a super heavy meat only diet, the typical paleo eater will eat a lot more veggies than the average western dieter, including those who claim to eat a healthy vegetable centered diet. In fact, the CFS paleo challenge rules state you must eat at least 3 servings of fruits and veggies a day or you will lose points.
While adding a variety of vegetables is indeed a noble goal for eating healthier, both in the “conventional healthy” world and the paleo world, unfortunately there are lots of unhealthy ways of dressing up those vegetables, including most commercial salad dressings. Yes, it is true, almost all commercial salad dressings are very unhealthy and should be avoided. The typical commercial salad dressing is made up of the following ingredients: vegetable oil (soybean or canola oil), water, some type of sugar, other stuff (including lots of weird chemicals and preservatives). Even if the salad dressing is labeled “low fat”, “light”, “lite” (why is it spelled this way?), “heart healthy”, “American Heart Association approved”, etc. it is still not the best idea to drench your healthy vegetables in this type of dressing.
Now I am not arguing you should forgo salads or salad dressing. Dark leafy greens are packed with nutrition and some of those nutrients are absorbed better by the body when eaten with a fat source, e.g. salad dressing. Getting back to what is wrong with typical salad dressing, it should be obvious that lots of added sugar, preservatives and chemicals are not good for you. But what about canola oil and soybean oil. Isn’t canola oil heart healthy? Unfortunately not, despite the attempts at the manufacturers to label it that way now. It is sometimes described as heart healthy because of its low saturated fat content, high monounsaturated fat content, and (very small) omega-3 content. Those claims about its fat contents are true, however the truth is that canola oil is a very highly processed product made from genetically modified rapeseed plant which has been documented as not being safe for humans, and causing health problems with long term use.
Soybean oil is no better, and probably worse than canola oil. It has also been documented extensively to cause health problems.
So what is a person to do? Give up? If you are averse to using homemade dressing and want to just buy something from the store, there are only very limited options. One brand I have seen is Kerry Woods dressing which actually is quite healthy and does not have any canola/soybean oil in it or processed sugars. Unfortunately it is a bit pricier than typical dressing, at around $5.99 / 12 oz. when I’ve purchased it.
Another way of getting healthy salad dressing is to make your own! Any combination of extra virgin olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, bacon fat, avocado oil can serve as the base fat. Add in some combination of vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, salt/pepper, other spices, and you’re good to go. Much cheaper than store bought too! Dr. Google is your friend here for looking up homemade recipes. After finding a recipe you like, it only takes a couple of minutes and you can whip up an inexpensive healthy recipe. Here’s a pretty good recipe that looks similar to what we do at home: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/balsamic-vinaigrette/detail.aspx
With this new knowledge about salad dressing you too can go out and eat a healthy salad while laughing! (while also eating your protein and fat too).
15 Chest to Bar Pull-ups
15 Sumo deadlift high pulls (95,65)
Level 2 (80,55)
Level 1 (65,35)