Whether your incentive is to lose weight fast or improve your overall health, tossing your own homemade salad with a healthy salad dressing is a great way to get your greens in. But if you’re opting for store-bought salad dressings, the sauce may be the reason you’re not witnessing your waistline whittle down. Why? The bottled brand you buy will play a role in how many calories you consume.
In fact, many bottled salad toppers are jam-packed with bloating amounts of salt and sugar in addition to sketchy dyes and preservatives. So why taint your nutritious bowl with these health-undoing ingredients? If you’re bored of plain ol’ olive oil and lemon juice or don’t have the time or ingredients to whip up a flavorful salad dressing at home, we’ve put together a guide that’ll help you sort through the good and bad bottles at the supermarket.
Ideally, you want your healthy salad dressing to contain less than 250 milligrams of salt and less than 3 grams of sugar per two tablespoons. And while “fat-free” dressings may seem synonymous with fitting into your skinny jeans again, that’s not actually the case. You want your topper to contain some healthy fats, which help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K—slimming nutrients found in many salad staples such as spinach and tomatoes.
Find out if your favorite salad dressing made the cut below, and if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips, subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
Bolthouse Farms Chunky Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing
We love that Bolthouse Farms uses protein-rich yogurt for its base to keep the fat content of this healthy salad dressing respectably low. And with an impressive 35 calories per serving and 2 grams of muscle-maintaining protein, you won’t believe this bottle packs in velvety blue cheese in almost every bite.
Organic Girl Avocado Cilantro
If the avocado on your countertop isn’t yet ripe for use, don’t fret—you can still get the coveted creamy flavor with this organic offering. Organic Girl boasts a kick of jalapenos and invigorating lime juice as well as satiating unsaturated fats that help you absorb many veggies’ fat-soluble nutrients. Squirt this over a Mexican-style salad when you’re short on time to make fresh guac.
Apple cider vinegar, which has been linked to weight loss and appetite suppression, is the top ingredient in Bragg’s healthful vinaigrette. It’s sweetened with a drop of organic honey and liquid aminos, and balanced with a dash of black pepper for a low-sodium sauce that’s as wholesome as it tastes.
Primal Kitchen Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette & Marinade
Curcumin, the main antioxidant in turmeric, has been shown to fight inflammation—a key driver of weight gain. After you’ve drizzled your greens with the golden stuff, add a dash of black pepper. The zesty spice helps increase turmeric’s bioavailability.
Hilary’s Ranch Chia
Instead of relying on a fatty base of vegetable oil and buttermilk, Hilary’s concocts its creamy ranch with hearty coconut milk. To add to the benefits, this dressing packs in heart-healthy chia seeds for a dose of omega-3s in every bite.
Annie’s Organic Red Wine & Olive Oil Vinaigrette
Annie’s adds tang and body to your salads without breaking your calorie budget. Two tablespoons pack in under 150 calories and boast 15 grams of fat coming from extra virgin olive oil. EVOO is brimming with oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been shown to prevent heart disease.
Primal Kitchen Dreamy Italian Dressing
Avocado oil—the first ingredient in this pick—has been shown to prevent metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes, a study in BioMed Research Journal shows. What’s more, this dreamy dressing features aromatic flavors from basil, garlic, red chile peppers, and thyme, deeming this the perfect accompaniment to any meal.
Annie’s Organic Caesar Dressing
If you’re yearning for an indulgent flavor factor to keep your salad streak going, Annie’s organic Caesar trumps most commercial brands that inject their formulas with belly-ballooning fat and salt. Plus, this Ceasar is egg-free and non-GMO.
Tessemae’s Green Goddess
Unlike our other contenders, Tessemae’s serving size is trimmed down to a mere tablespoon. However, even if you double it to two, the nutritionals remain quite impressive. Instead of stuffing in deleterious amounts of sodium and sugar, Tessemae’s flavors its sauce with organic tamari, EVOO, and turmeric.
Hidden Valley Original Ranch
It’s time to ditch the dressing that convinced you to eat your veggies as a child. Hidden Valley’s original ranch sneaks in appetite-spiking MSG as well as artificial flavors and preservatives—scary ingredients you don’t want lurking in your salad.
Kraft Zesty Italian
Sure, one serving size boasts just 60 calories but are you looking at the super-high sodium content and preservative-packed ingredient list when buying a bottle of this savory salad topper? Skip Kraft’s Mediterranean-inspired sauce and go for one of our better store-bought salad dressings instead.
Wishbone Deluxe French
If you’re looking to add some sweetness to your spring mix, you’re better off tossing in some sliced fruit rather than drizzling on this dressing. Two tablespoons pack in 4 grams of sugar, which doesn’t sound too horrendous until you’ve poured double the recommended serving size into your bowl.
Kraft Thousand Island
Your go-to French fry dip contains more sodium than 20 mini Snyder’s pretzels! If your goal is to balance your blood pressure, skip this pick and opt for using these 20 Foods That Lower Blood Pressure to jazz up your lettuce.
Brianna’s Homestyle Asiago Caesar
Don’t let the modest and minimally-styled label fool you: this dressing is far from simple. In addition to including a laundry list of ingredients, Brianna’s cheese-spiked caesar also manages to pack in a whopping 270 milligrams of sodium.
Maple Grove Farms Fat-Free Greek
We were so close to loving this low-calorie condiment until we spotted potassium sorbate and 250 milligrams of sodium on the bottle’s backside. The sketchy preservative has been shown to be genotoxic to human lymphocytes (or white blood cells), according to a 2010 study. Yikes!
Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette
When you’re looking for a healthy salad dressing, balsamic is usually your go-to, right? Maybe not this one. Balsamic is known for its subtle sweet hints, but this offering is packed with a significant amount of heart-taxing salt. And contrary to its label, balsamic vinegar is a lowly third on the ingredient list, snailing behind fillers such as soybean oil and water.
Ken’s Honey Mustard
Whether you’re slathering the stuff on baked chicken or stirring it into spinach, this honey mustard isn’t a solid choice when you’re shopping for that sweet tang. Ken could do without the preservatives and unnatural dyes.
Ken’s Fat-Free Raspberry Pecan
You’d think raspberries were bright enough to contribute enough color to their pulverized counterpart, but Ken doesn’t seem to agree. This dressing packs in artificial dyes including Red 40 and Blue 1, and lists sugar as the second most abundant ingredient.
Kraft Fat-Free Catalina
You were attracted to the words “fat-free” plastered on the front label. Then, you turned the bottle around and saw that one serving boasts only 50 calories. Sure, this salad dressing seems promising at first glance, but its lengthy list of ingredients and sky-high sodium and sugar contents deem this Kraft bottle a total no-go.
Newman’s Own Low-Fat Sesame Ginger
Sesame and ginger are two fat-frying ingredients when found in their natural state. However, these ingredients lose their lustrous halo when tainted with 300 milligrams of sodium. Build a better salad by choosing one of our more healthful options and tossing some of these 43 Best Foods for Fiber in your bowl.