I’ve heard many clients exclaim various disappointing comments upon learning that the salad they are eating could in fact be destroying their health in the long run. If you’re trying to transform into a healthy lifestyle, it’s essential that you recognize not everything marketed as healthy, is in fact the best for you to eat. Have a bed of lettuce or spinach loaded with croutons, heavily-processed cheese, and an overload of processed salad dressing is not example what I’d define as healthy.
I urge you to realize the importance of caring for your health, and for the health of your children. It is one of the advice that the beloved Prophet (?) gives us in the famous hadith, reminding us to take care of five things before fie, one of them being your health before your sickness. Don’t wait until you are chronically ill to recognize the great blessing of your health, and how much you took it for granted. I discuss this further in my book, Sunnah Superfoods, available on Amazon. With that being said, let me shed light on something you may possibly be consuming frequently, if not daily, that is quite detrimental to your health.
Did you ever hear someone say, “I’ll pass on the salad dressing because it’s too fattening?” Whether you did, or perhaps that was your line of thought, I’m here to debunk this myth.
Fat is not the bad guy. I repeat, fat is not the bad guy. Of course, there are some terribly detrimental industrial oils out there, like one’s genetically modified, highly heated, deodorized, and have undergone chemical extraction, only to be sold to you in a bottle with an image of crispy, mouthwatering, fresh vegetables. However, consuming good fats, including extra virgin olive oil, organic butter, nuts, seeds, nut butters, or avocadoes, will not make you fat. It’s time we point fingers at the real bad guy: processed food loaded with ingredients, refined sugar, preservatives, and man-made chemicals, then sold to you with a million and one marketing tactics claiming they are good for you: “good source of vitamin D,” “lite,” “sugar-free,” “whole-wheat, or “fat-free.”
Breaking down the ingredients of the most commonly eaten salad dressings, this is what it comes down to:
INDUSTRIAL OILS: Majority of salad dressings are not bad because it’s high in FAT. They are bad because they are loaded with genetically engineered oils that lead to inflammation, liver toxicity, and many other health conditions (saving for a later post).
DAIRY: Whether your dressing has buttermilk, skim milk, or cheese, if it’s not certified organic then it may just be loaded with growth hormones, antibiotics, and traces of genetically engineered feed.
THICKENING AGENTS, EMULSIFIERS, GUMS, STABILIZERS: All of these are used to offset the water (yes, many store-bought salad dressings contain water as the first or second ingredient because it’s cheaper). Water isn’t bad, but when you mix it with cheap oil and vinegar, you must add a ton of chemicals or additives to ensure the flavor is well-incorporated, not bland, and taste approved. Read how many “gums” are in your dressing.
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP/ SUGAR: Did you seriously ever want to make homemade salad dressing and think, “man I’m definitely feeling like I need to toss in a bit of high fructose corn syrup?” No! Corporations use these as it they are more profitable for their pockets. Even if your salad dressing is SUGAR-FREE, it does not give you the greenlight that is healthy. In fact, some studies have found artificial sweeteners are even worse.
ARTIFICAL FOOD DYES: When you fill up a bottle with cheap industrial oil, water, and vinegar, you could only imagine the transparent color it reflects. That’s why many companies toss in Yellow 6 or Yellow 5. These artificial food dyes belong in your art classroom or canvas, not your stomach. They are banned in other countries and as seen as carcinogenic, as well as linked with ADHD in children.
SODIUM: Really, there is an overdose of sodium in most salad dressings. The quality of the refined white table salt used is most likely very cheap, and comes along with more anti-caking agents than salt itself. The average sodium in salad dressings is anywhere from 200 to 400 milligrams per TWO TEASPOONS. Now, please tell me, who puts just two teaspoons of dressing on their salad?
PRESERVATIVES: Sodium benzoate? That doesn’t sound like something you will find in grandma’s pantry. These preservatives are added to give the salad dressings shelf-stable life for up to 24 months. There is still debate over the safety of sodium benzoate, as well as another popularly used preservative, calcium disodium EDTA.
Does it not make sense to you why that bottle of dressing goes on sale for 99 cents?!
You might be wondering though, what about the fancy glass bottles in the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket?
While there are many great options out on the rise, I would advise that you be cautious of the ingredients, and ensure its certified organic and non-GMO verified.
A few take home points from this article:
Read your ingredients carefully. Even if it says “natural” on the label, be wary.
Don’t fall for marketing tactics. “Fat-free,” “light,” “sugar-free,” are not indications of a health food. When was the last time you saw your celery labeled fat free?
If it’s not possible to purchase certified organic dressing, making salad dressing at home is incredibly easy (and more cost-efficient); Check out my book for some recipes.
Read about other detrimental ingredients and how to avoid them, as well as family friendly recipes in my book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS. You can grab a copy or gift one to someone you love via Amazon. Be more aware of what is in your food, and try to avoid ingredients that are found to be harmful to your health. Renew your intentions, and aim to take care of the trust of your health and body.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages. She recently published