The 5 Healthiest Salad Dressings, According to a Nutritionist

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I’m a salad fanatic. I’ve eaten one nearly every day for years, and I love experimenting with different combinations of greens, toppings, and dressings. The latter is key, because the right dressing can significantly boost the healthfulness of your bowl, while the wrong one can add all kinds of surplus calories, sugar, unhealthy fat, and artificial ingredients. Here are my recommendations for the best ways to dress your salad, including a few less conventional options you may not have tried yet.

Extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette

Antioxidant-rich EVOO is a true superfood. It’s been shown reduce brain and body inflammation, protect brain function and memory, help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and help ward off cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and strokes. What’s more, EVOO is very satiating, and will leave you feeling full but not sluggish. Some research shows that high EVOO consumption doesn’t contribute to weight gain, and may even support weight loss.

My favorite combination is one tablespoon each EVOO and balsamic vinegar, mixed with one teaspoon each stone ground mustard and dried Italian herbs. Sometimes I’ll also add a teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon of minced garlic.

Finding a bottled dressing made with EVOO is a little tricky. Despite what the labels say, many are actually mixed with lower quality oils. That’s unfortunate, because the high omega-6 fatty acid content of oils like corn and soybean tend to be pro-inflammatory. One of the few EVOO-only dressings I’ve seen is Star vinaigrette ($13 for 10 single-serving packs; amazon.com).

Tahini

If you’ve been to a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurant, you’ve probably seen tahini offered as a dip or drizzled over falafel. Despite its creamy look, tahini is dairy-free. It’s traditionally made from ground sesame seeds.

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