The Salad Dressing Buying Guide

Find out how to give your dressing a healthy upgrade.

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The Salad Dressing Buyer’s Guide (3:39)

While at first glance it may seem like a salad is the ultimate healthy choice, the toppings and dressing can actually be undoing all your hard work. Once upon a time, salad dressing used to be made with just oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and spices, but now a lot of popular brands are adding artificial dyes, thickeners, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and tons of unnecessary sugars. With the help of investigative reporter Lisa Lee Freeman, we've uncovered the tips and tricks you should keep in mind when shopping for a salad dressing.  Read on to learn more and print out this handy guide to take it with you to the store the next time you need to stock up on salad dressing. 

Think Twice About Dressings Labeled "Fat-Free" or "Creamy"

Freeman says this is particularly important to keep in mind because "fat-free" usually means they are compensating for the lack of fat by adding sugar and preservatives to mask the lack of flavor. It's actually beneficial to have some healthy fat in your salad dressing because it helps you absorb vitamins and nutrients. The word "creamy" is usually a sign of too much fat, typically in the form of saturated fats from dairy products.

More: 7 Salad Toppings to Avoid 

The First Three Ingredients Should Be Oil, Water, and Vinegar 

This serves as a great foundation for any dressing because vinegar and water are calorie-free and oil provides a good amount of healthy fat. Just make sure there are less than 0.5 grams of saturated fat per serving and that all the other ingredients are herbs, spices, and other seasonings.  

More: The Ultimate Summer Salad Cheat Sheet

Make Sure the Dressing Has No More Than Two Grams of Sugar

Many salad dressings have a little bit of sugar which is totally fine. Just make a serving doesn't exceed two grams, especially since a lot of salad toppings like dried fruit, fresh fruit, etc, may have sugar in them as well.

More: The Guide to Building the Best Salad