10 Most Pointless Salad Ingredients

Make a salad work harder for you by not filling it with a bunch of empty-calorie ingredients.


You get a pat on the back for choosing to have a salad, but take two points off for getting breaded chicken over grilled. Of course, it doesn’t work that way, but we can help make a good choice even better. The reasoning? Make the salad work harder for you by not filling it with a lot of pointless, empty-calorie ingredients. That means foregoing the croutons and chow mein noodles but getting the same salty, crunchy deliciousness in a healthier way, like toasted sesame seeds, which serve up calcium and iron.

Holding the bacon bits is one step in the right direction, but not every vegetable was created equal. On the food chain of command, even fresh, healthy foods have an edge over other fresh, healthy foods — call them “superfoods.” For instance, change up your greens by switching Romaine lettuce for spinach, which does triple duty as a great source of folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium plus the more you vary your salad ingredients, the more well-rounded your diet will be.

No matter if salads are made at home or at the deli, indulgent toppings defeat the purpose of eating healthy. Ordering the iceberg wedge with bleu cheese and bacon, while a classic, can have as many calories as a small burger, so if the intention was a light lunch, you've missed the mark. To get a healthy meal that works overtime, 10 pointless salad fillers are paired with a healthier substitution that serves the same purpose but also makes the meal more balanced.

Click here for the 10 Most Pointless Salad Ingredients Slideshow.


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79 Comments

Thom's picture

Eating isn't always about being healthy, enjoyment is an important part of the 3 meals! After taking some or all of these 7 things out of a salad, make sure you serve it on a 6" paper plate, then throw the salad away and eat the paper plate. Not only will the plate taste better but it will be higher in fiber!

TSAC's picture

I love pure, simple freshness, and to me (please don't kill me) adding bacon bits to a fresh watercress radish salad or mayo to a crispy tomato-watermelon salad is like condemning ketchup. WHY?!?!?!?!
http://www.bloomingtastebuds.blogspot.com/

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I find any article about good nutrition vs better nutrition to be educational and helpful in fighting the obesity epidemic in the US. It's very interesting how many comments reflect reader's very personal reactions rather than using the suggestions as guidelines. Nobody is telling you salad, cheese, cucumber, etc. lovers that you can't have these foods - get a grip people!
Please keep the articles on good vs better nutrition coming!

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I agree 100%!!! This article states that is about nutrition not what taste "the best". I am surprised that most of you who gave negative comments even read this article and viewed the side show because it is obvious you are not interested in better nutrition. I love these articles and agree again, keep them coming!!!

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Here is my list of pointless salad ingredients

1) salad leaves
2) lettuce leaves
3) spinach
4) arugula (or whatever the fancy green stuff is)
5) carrots
6) peppers
7) tomatoes
8) bean sprouts or any other white filaments
9) broccoli
10) anything else that is not steak or cheese

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Although I didn't like the slideshow aspect, I found this article to be well thought-out. I get the author's point about choosing healthier calories over empty calories. I'm constantly trying to find new ways to 'bulk up' my salads without loading on the fat and calories.

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Enter your comment...What a joke this article is onions, cucumbers and sprouts are you kidding me? I wouldn't think of eating a salad without onions and cucumbers they are my favorites and very nutrient dense, the person who wrote this article doesn't know a thing about nutrition. I agree with the rest though. No need for meat in a salad.

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Are you kidding me? How are any of these ingredients "pointless"? Green Beans? I love green beans. And bacon. Usually together. Food is supposed to be enjoyable. Variety is important, also-- yes, you can make the "perfect" salad, but who wants to eat that every day? I can see having a baked potato instead of french fries, but I am blown away by "beets instead of corn" or "broccoli instead of green beans". And please, no more automatic slide shows. It's also nice to have all the pictures and writing available on one page instead of a slide show.

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It is still best for "normal" people, interested in their physical welfare, to use their brain and eat healthy but delicious food. We get enough of these "you should" and "you shouldn't" commands from the government and the commands change like the weather. No, good ideas - great, keep the negatives to a minimum.

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Raw zucchini is disgusting in both texture and flavor. It has no crunch. Don't you EVER EVER tell me to substitute a lowly squash for my cucumbers. Blech.

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I agree. I DO love zucchini, but please let me cook it. I LOVE cukes, and how anyone could infer that they are in any way 'bad' for you is just...heck, attention-seeking behaviour. This entire article is pointless. Yes, I DO see people making bad choices at the salad bar and feeling 'virtuous' cos they're having salad, but this article is unlikely to change that mindset. Most of the 'change-outs' they've suggested here are silly. I DO put many of these things in my salads...but at different times. The wonderful thing about salads is that you can have a DIFFERENT salad each day. As long as you don't pile them high with high fat and calorie ingredients then top them off with a half cup of thick fatty dressing, well...it's all good. EVERYTHING in moderation. I will NEVER change my mind about this. A SMALL amount of cheese, great. Ditto avocados. Ditto nuts and seeds. DOUBLE ditto dressing. My 'go-to' dressing is either citrus juice, different vinegars and a bit of olive oil, plus herbs, spices and usually a 'tad' of parm. I use a multitude of veggies, (And, yes, occasionally the dreaded iceberg lettuce even!) How could they even suggest that onions are 'bad' to use? I just don't understand ANYTHING about this article. They need to go back to school and learn what they're talking about. Wow. To enter the 'captcha' here one must listen to an advert. Just 'wow'.

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In a time when we're trying to encourage people to eat more vegetables, to condemn cucumbers, onions, green beans, and sprouts seems irresponsible. They are a low-calorie way to increase total fresh-food intake, improve flavour in salads, and they do provide vitamins and nutrients that are more than worth it, given the excellent nutrient-to-calorie ratio.

And while cheese isn't good in the calorie department, calcium is an essential nutrient that people, especially women, don't get enough of.

This article needs some work. It's worse than bad, it's irresponsible and misleading.

Valaer Murray's picture

Thanks for your input, Anonymous. We are not condemning any of these ingredients, rather we are acknowledging that there are healthier alternatives to some common salad ingredients, many of which are not UNhealthy but are less nutrient-packed than others. True, cheese is a good source of calcium, but an even healthier source of calcium are greens like spinach and kale.

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I already eat healthy. I cycle 10 miles per day to & from work. All this diet advice is continualy changing, one day I'm told eat this, the following day I'm told don't eat this.
What I don't need is another "expert" telling me what I should be eating!

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This author needs to do their research better,even a juice head at GNC knows more than this, and that's really pathetic. One inch of cucumber per day can help detox your body, it removes harmful chemicals and can help remove cellulte. Crutons although they say they are pointless they can be made from anything and as healthy as you want, wheat bread, etc. Onions have a natural codine which is amazing for your lungs and they are very healthy for you. The whole point of a salad is to help curb your apetite,alfalfa sprouts are not only good for you there are different kinds, red clover sprouts are amazing for womens health as well, you need to do your research more before you start writing this crap for the sheeple.

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This critic of the author needs to do their research better, even a juice head at GNC knows more than this and that's really pathetic. "Once inch of cucumber per day can help detox your body, it removes harmful chemicals and can help remove cellulte(sic)." Oh really. What is the mechanism by which cucumber detox's the body? Can you cite any studies that show this? Do you have any evidence at all to support this rather bizarre claim. Just what is the toxin that cucumber removes? To move on, there is no such substance as cellulite. Cellulite is the APPEARANCE of topographical changes to the skin surface (do some research and you will start to understand). You go on and say "The whole point of a salad is to help curb your apetite(sic)" Wrong. The whole point of food is to provide nutrition. On the whole your critique is crap, your points are pointless and your conclusions are cretinous.

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I laughed OIT loud reading all the comments from the very opinionated peanut gallery... Hilarious!!!!

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A list of the "bad" items would be much more helpful than a slideshow. There is no easy way to transcribe the information into note form.

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I completely agree. The information should've been on one page, but they drew it out to sell ads. And it wasn't really a good list, anyway, as each of the things you "don't need" plays a role in the salad. I might agree with iceberg lettuce, bacon and croutons/chow mein (essentially the same thing), though.

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so do you hate hour long TV shows because they sell more ads than a half hour show? sorry but selling ads are what enables web sites as well as tv and radio to be free. you may not like them but a lot of peoples livelihoods depend on them.

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Maybe this is not a universal practice, but my wife insists on adding raw button mushrooms to salads. Talk about useless! These pieces of fungus add very little nutrition, taste, texture or visual appeal.

I'm surprised neither the article nor anyone else has mentioned them here.

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THE NEW, IMPROVED, RED WHITE AND BLUE DAILY MEAL SALAD
iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, celery, corn, alfalfa sprouts, with green beans and red onions for a spot of color. 2 Tbsp Kraft Blue Cheese Dressing.
It's patriotic, too.
Maybe it should be called the Tea Party Salad – a number of useless and pointless ingredients thrown together for the fun of it.

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Wow...how sad is your lifethat you feel the need to take an article about SALAD and turn it into your pathetic political bitchfest? Shouldn't you be out stinking up Wall St. whining that no one is giving you money for free?

Valaer Murray's picture

Wow, very passionate reactions! I think it's great that so many of you care about what you are eating, and that is definitely the "point" of this article -- to get us all thinking about the choices we make, not to condemn green beans or onions or even cheese at all. (I love cheese AND bacon!) In fact, the focus was not on calories but what nutrients the ingredients provide. All of these ingredients were compared side by side using the nutritional information provided by the USDA, which is available to anyone, and we encourage you to compare the items yourself. Go to Nutrition.gov.

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Honey, do you really think the government has a clue as to what citizens need to put in their salads? Evidence reports that they don't have a clue on almost nothing this days...if your source is the government...I feel sorry for you...take care and do more research beyond your little government people-rearing and domination sites...Good Luck!

Valaer Murray's picture

Thanks for your concern, Anonymous! Not sure what evidence you are talking about regarding the government, but we feel pretty confident that the USDA provides correct calorie counts as well as very detailed nutritional break downs of specific foods.

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If the focus isn't on calories you shouldn't have used the phrase "empty-calorie ingredients". Cucumbers, for example, have about 8 calories per serving.

Valaer Murray's picture

The phrase "empty calorie" means that a food lacks nutrients and doesn't refer to the amount of calories. :)

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Actually, "empty calories" refers to the proportion of calories to nutrients. Although a cucumber doesn't have many nutrients per serving, the number of calories is very low, and thus the proportion is still good. This kind of logic is like saying that water is "empty calories" and thus not worth drinking.

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If you are going to suggest people forego a half cup of croutons (at 100 calories) for slivered almonds or walnuts, you should probably point out that the same amount of calories is reached using just two tablespoons of the almonds or 7-8 walnut halves.

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