Summer is the high season for healthy salads. But the dressing you choose can make a big difference.
From classic Caesar to fat-free balsamic vinegar, we asked dietician Helen Bond to assess the benefits of ten salad dressings for supermarkets. We then assessed them.
CLASSIC SALAD DRESS BY MARY BERRY 235 ml, £ 4, ocado.com Per serving (30 ml): calories, 120; saturated fat, 0.72 g; sugar, 6 g; salt, 0.36 g
CLASSIC SALAD DRESS BY MARY BERRY
235 ml, £ 4, ocado.com
Per serving (30 ml): calories, 120; saturated fat, 0.72 g; sugar, 6 g; salt, 0.36 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Rapeseed oil, water, sugar, white wine vinegar, seasonings including mustard seeds, basil, parsley.
EXPERTISE: On the positive side, rapeseed oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, keeping cholesterol levels under control. Mustard seeds provide selenium, important for thyroid and immune function and healthy hair and skin.
A home made oil and vinegar version would be healthier – avoiding one and a half teaspoon of sugar per serving (one fifth of the daily limit; there is 20 g of sugar per 100 ml, making it higher in sugar than a digestive biscuit).
And with 120 calories per serving, it is also not waist friendly. 2/10
HELLMANN’S SESAME & SOYA DRESS 210 ml, £ 1.65, sainsburys.com Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 77; saturated fat, 0.66 g; sugar, 2 g; salt, 0.44 g
HELLMANN’S SESAME & SOYO DRESS
210 ml, £ 1.65, sainsburys.com
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 77; saturated fat, 0.66 g; sugar, 2 g; salt, 0.44 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Water, cider vinegar, rapeseed oil, soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds and oil, herbs and spices.
EXPERTISE: Sesame seeds contain a lot of iron, but there is less than 1 gram per serving.
Sprinkling with a few teaspoons of this would provide 7 percent of your daily iron needs (try a Chinese-style salad with romaine, spring onions, peanuts, coriander, plus this dressing and sesame seeds).
The dressing is mediocre calories, but one serving contains about 1/14 of your daily salt, quite high for a small portion of your overall diet. It also has half a teaspoon of added sugar.
On the positive side, it is lower in calories than others here. 6/10
WAITROSE BLUE CHEESE DRESS 235ml, £ 1.86. Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 180; saturated fat, 1.6 g; sugar, 2 g; salt, 1.11 g
WAITROSE BLUE CHEESE DRESS
235 ml, £ 1.86.
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 180; saturated fat, 1.6 g; sugar, 2 g; salt, 1.11 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Rapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, water, sugar, blue cheese powder, egg yolk, salt.
EXPERTISE: Adding a 180 calorie dressing to your salad is like adding a chocolate bar. This also has a huge amount of salt – one serving has almost a fifth of the recommended daily maximum of 6 grams.
The blue cheese powder of 4 percent is not enough to add calcium to your diet, but it increases the fat content: there is 8 percent of your recommended limit for saturated fat per serving. Best avoided.1/10
TRACKLEMENTS HONEY MUSTARD DRESS 240 ml, £ 3.29, ocado.com Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 164; saturated fat, 1.95 g; sugar, 3.6 g; salt, 0.42 g
TRACKLEMENTS HONEY MUSTARD DRESS
240 ml, £ 3.29, ocado.com
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 164; saturated fat, 1.95 g; sugar, 3.6 g; salt, 0.42 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Sunflower oil, cider vinegar, honey, mustard, water, sugar, salt.
EXPERTISE: This contains only ingredients that you would find at home, i.e. nothing artificial, which is a plus, but a serving contains 164 calories (about the same as a bag of chips) and almost a teaspoon of added sugar.
There is also almost a tenth of your daily saturated fat limit per portion, but this is compensated by a much higher level of unsaturated fats (sunflower oil provides both types), which is healthier and good for keeping cholesterol levels under control.
Sunflower is also a good source of vitamin E, protecting our cell DNA from damage – a portion can deliver more than your daily vitamin E needs.
Vitamins E and C work together to protect cells from damage, so make sure the salad contains vitamin C-rich ingredients such as red pepper or spinach. 4/10
TESCO MANGO & CHILLI SALAD DRESS
TESCO MANGO & CHILLI SALAD DRESS 250ml, 85p. Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 66; saturated fat, 0.6 g; sugar, 3 g; salt, 0.4 g
250 ml, 85 p.
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 66; saturated fat, 0.6 g; sugar, 3 g; salt, 0.4 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Water, rapeseed oil, mango puree, red chili puree.
EXPERTISE: The mango puree is sufficient to add flavor, but no nutritional value. But have it with pieces of fruit, watercress and shrimp for a healthy salad that contains a lot of vitamin C, fiber and proteins.
The sugar content per serving (8 to 9 percent of your daily limit) is less than healthy, but this dressing can still be a good option for weight loss, with an acceptable level of 66 calories per serving.
The chili heat can also mean that you use less dressing for the same taste impact.5/10
SAINSBURY SWEET BALSAMICS
SAINSBURY’S SWEET BALSAMIC 260ml, 85p. Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 18; saturated fat, traces; sugar, 1.74 g; salt, 0.23 g
260 ml, 85 p.
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 18; saturated fat, traces; sugar, 1.74 g; salt, 0.23 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Water, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar, grape juice concentrate, sugar, corn flour, condiments.
EXPERTISE: Despite being ‘sweet’ in the name, it doesn’t have as much sugar as many salad dressings, at just under half a teaspoon in a 30-ml portion.
It is incredibly low in calories and gets brownie points because it is one of the lower salt relationships.
Because it is fat-free, it is worth adding healthy fat sources, such as seeds or avocado, to your salad to ensure that fat-soluble antioxidants – such as the beta-carotene in leaves and tomatoes – are better absorbed.9/10
PIZZA EXPRESS HOUSE LIGHT SALAD DRESSING
PIZZA EXPRESS HOUSE LIGHT SALAD DRESS 235 ml, £ 1.50, most supermarkets. Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 89; saturated fat, 1.26 g; sugar, 1.38 g; salt; 0.66 g
235 ml, £ 1.50, most supermarkets.
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 89; saturated fat, 1.26 g; sugar, 1.38 g; salt; 0.66 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Water, olive oil, vinegar, egg, salt, other flavorings.
EXPERTISE: A creamy ranch-like dressing in which part of the oil has been replaced by water.
“Light” only means 30 percent less fat or calories – in this case fat – than an original version of the product, so if you were hoping for a low-calorie dressing, you would be disappointed because it has more calories than a chocolate digestion .
The sugar is low and the saturated fat content is fine.
Regarding salinity – one serving provides more than one tenth of your recommended limit. 2.5 / 10
MORRISONS CAESAR DRESS 175 ml, £ 1.10. Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 120; saturated fat, 1.2 g; sugar, 0.8 g; salt, 0.36 g
MORRISONS CAESAR DRESSING
175 ml, £ 1.10.
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 120; saturated fat, 1.2 g; sugar, 0.8 g; salt, 0.36 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Rapeseed oil, water, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, vinegar sugar, garlic, Worcester sauce and other seasonings.
EXPERTLY DID: Caesar dressing is often considered one of the worst connections because of the creaminess, but this version is not that bad.
In contrast to homemade Caesar salad dressing that may be full of cheese, it does not contain much saturated fat or sugar and does not mind 120 calories per serving.
The 7 percent Parmigiano Reggiano provides only 2.5 percent of your daily calcium per serving.
Use this dressing to bind a vibrant slaw of red cabbage, apple, carrot and red onion that would contain more antioxidants than traditional iceberg lettuce. 6/10
ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL FRENCH VINAIGRETTE
ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL FRENCH VINAIGRETTE 255 ml, £ 1.29. Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 102; saturated fat, 0.6 g; sugar, 3.8 g; salt, 0.32 g
255 ml, £ 1.29.
Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 102; saturated fat, 0.6 g; sugar, 3.8 g; salt, 0.32 g
WHAT’S IN IT: Water, vinegar, rapeseed oil, sugar, mustard and herbs.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: Made with Chardonnay vinegar and a combination of regular and cold-pressed rapeseed oil.
Although this can affect the taste, it makes no nutritional difference. There is still almost a teaspoon of added sugar per portion, although the salt and the saturated fat content are not bad.
Make a sugar-free version by shaking oil and vinegar in a ratio of 2: 1 and then add mustard. 3/10
RAW VIBRANT LIVE ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR WITH TURMERIC & GINGER
500 ml, £ 4.29, ocado.com
RAW VIBRANT LIVE ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR WITH TURMERIC & GINGER 500 ml, £ 4.29, ocado.com Per serving (30 ml): Cal, 2; saturated fat, 0 g; sugar, 0.2 g; salt trail
Per portion (30 ml): Cal, 2; saturated fat, 0 g; sugar, 0.2 g; salt trail
WHAT’S IN IT: Apple cider vinegar, water, ginger, turmeric, chili.
EXPERTISE: A popular alternative to standard dressings because it is low in calories and people believe it reduces the amount of blood fat.
There is a perception that vinegar helps with weight loss, perhaps by stimulating fat burning.
A 2009 study in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry discovered that people who consumed 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar had modest weight loss (2lb-4lb) and lower triglyceride levels than those who did not drink any.
But this study did not specifically use apple cider vinegar and, overall, evidence that it is a weight loss aid is not conclusive.
This product contains curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) and ginger, which have anti-inflammatory effects, but the amounts per portion are low and I doubt that they have had much effect.
A vinegar dressing works well with potato salads – the acid slows the release of sugar from the potatoes, lowering blood sugar levels and insulin peaks that can increase diabetes risk.
You should add oil to turn this into a good dressing.
If mixed half and half with olive oil, this would increase to 130 calories per serving of two tablespoons. 7/10
Secrets of an A-list body
This week: the shoulders of Andie MacDowell
At the LA premiere of her new movie, Ready Or Not, Andie MacDowell wore an off-the-shoulder dress. The actress, 61, says her favorite ways to do sports are walking and yoga.
“Walking is more than just exercising – your cortisol levels are balanced by walking in nature,” she said.
WHAT TO TRY: The weighted stand-up works every muscle and strengthens shoulders. Lying on your back, hold a weight in your right hand. Lift it so that your right arm is almost in front of you. Tighten your core muscles and place your left hand on the floor behind your body to get into a standing position while keeping the weight up. Keep your right arm straight during the movement and finish with the weight directly above your head.
Repeat five times on each side, build to ten.