3 Steps To Ruin Your Salad With Bottled Dressings

When that burger is healthier than your salad

Imagine : you have an interview scheduled over lunch.

You order a salad – because salads are healthy. And you want to show your potential boss that you make good decisions, care about your health and that you're not a complete animal. 

The salad arrives and is lathered in a creamy salad dressing and covered in dried cranberries, sugar-glazed nuts, crispy chicken, croutons and a mound of cheese. 

Ayygh – that burger wrapped in a lettuce bun is looking like a complete health food right now.


Foiled by the Package

Just like snack bars and yogurt, salads -- in particular, salad dressings -- can transform a plate of nutrient-rich veggies and protein into a mound of bad-for-us oils with goodness-know-what additives and preservatives.


Dress Talk

Salad dressing -- even salad dressings promoted by health conscious companies can be full of junk. 

Let’s take a quick peak at 3 bottled salad dressings that are promoted as healthy:

1) Annie's Organic Oil & Vinegar


*Expeller pressed vegetable oil (*canola and/or *sunflower), water, *distilled white vinegar, *balsamic vinegar, sea salt, *garlic, *basil, *black pepper, *onion, *parsley, *celery seed, *chives, xanthan gum.  *organic ingredients.

  • Good: Look at all those organic ingredients. Smile-face-emoji!
  • Bad: Expeller-pressed vegetable oil (canola and/or sunflower oil) is the first and only oil ingredient. Expeller pressing presses and squeezes oil from a seed by producing a large force on the seed. Even though this is considered a cold-process, heat is produced by the force. Expeller pressing is a common practice of many organic brands, like Annie's. 

Unstable polyunsaturated fats -- like canola oil -- oxidize (read : become damaged, turn rancid, promote inflammation) easily. 

Moral of the story: Just because it says "Organic Oil & Vinegar" dressing, look at the oil used. Stick with olive oil or avocado oil. 


2) trader joe's organic red wine & olive oil vinaigrette


Water, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic vegetable oil (organic soy, and/or organic canola oil), organic red wine vinegar, salt, organic onion, organic spices, organic garlic, organic lemon juice concentrate, organic fruit and vegetable extract (for color), xanthan gum.


  • Good: The FIRST ingredient (after water) is organic extra virgin olive oil!
  • Bad: The SECOND ingredient is organic vegetable oil. Sad-face-emoji. 

Again, vegetable oils are fragile, and are prone to oxidation. When exposed to light, heat and air, these fragile fats can be damaged or become rancid. 

How would you know if your oil is rancid? Give it the sniff test. Does the oil smell musty or sour? You may have a rancid oil. Toss it!

Moral of the story: Just because the first ingredient is olive oil, keep reading! 


3) trader joe's Fat free balsamic vinaigrette


Vinegar (red wine, balsamic, cider, white distilled), water, sugar, granulated salt, soybean oil, garlic, xanthan gum, spices, caramel color. 






  • Good: Soybean (not ideal oil) is the fifth ingredient, not the first. 
  • Bad:
    • Caramel color. Consumer Reports released a report showing foods containing caramel color can increase our risk for cancer.
    • Where are the healthy fats? We need dietary fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and minerals!


3 steps to ruin a salad with DRESSING

1) Add Bad-For-You Oils

Omega-6 fatty acids promote an inflammatory response.  It’s so easy to overdo Omega-6s, even if we’re eating a healthy diet -- nuts, chicken, turkey pork are all naturally quite high in Omega-6 fats. 

 Eating too many Omega-6 fatty acids can lead to cardiovascular issues, heart disease and overall inflammation. More on Omega-6 fats here.

Omega-6 rich, inflammatory oils to avoid:

  • Canola
  • Cottonseed    
  • Corn   
  • Safflower
  • Shortenings    
  • Sunflower    
  • Soybean
  • Trans fats/Partially Hydrogenated Oil/Shortening
  • Vegetable Oil

Use healthy cold-use fats like extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil!


2) use fat-free salad dressings

Fat-free salad dressings don't include oil. 

So, sugar, artificial sweeteners and natural flavorings will likely take it's place. Healthy fats like olive oil enhance the taste of salad, and are needed for fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed. 

If you really don't want to use oil, squeeze lemon over the top of your salad. 


3) bottled with artificial ingredients 

Flip over a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch and you'll be greeted with monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial flavors and xanthan gum. 

Make you own!


Make your own dressing

 Here's my master salad dressing formula -- adjust to suit your salad! 

Don't-Be-Afraid-Of-Being-Basic Basic Vinaigrette

  • 3 parts olive oil
  • 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon/lime/citrus)
  • Pinch of Dijon mustard
  • Mix of your favorite herbs/spices/garlic/salt/pepper


Make your own dressing and you'll never need to buy bottled again!