The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Salad Dressings

How healthy is your salad dressing? We take a look at the unhealthiest salad dressings and their low-calorie counterparts

Salad Dressing
Wikimedia Commons
Some salad dressings are much higher in fat, calories, and sodium than you might think.

Choosing salad over a sandwich or burger always makes for a healthier lunch, right? Thanks to hefty portion sizes, extravagant toppings, and certain brand-name salad dressings that pack up to 200 calories and 20 grams of fat per serving, this may not always be the case. We tracked down nutrition information for the leading store-bought brands of ranch, Thousand Island, Caesar, and Italian/vinaigrette salad dressings, and ranked them each, leading up to the one that has the most fat and calories.

Click here to see the Unhealthiest Store-Bought Salad Dressings

Additionally, most people tend to ignore their salad dressing’s reported serving size, which is usually only 2 tablespoons. If the only way you can enjoy a salad is by drenching it in a cup of dressing, then you may not be getting the healthiest lunch you can.

While you should remain wary of store-brand salad dressings with high fat and calorie contents, nutritionists remind salad lovers not to shy away from fat altogether, and warn that low-calorie or low-fat dressings may not always be a healthier option than their full-fat counterparts.

Nutritionish Keri Glassman cautions that what "light" dressings save on calories and fat, they often more than make up for in sodium and sugar. We also ranked these same varieties of dressings according to which ones had the least fat and calories. While these may appear to be healthy alternatives, the sodium level is worth paying attention to. Glassman further asserts that "light" and "fat-free" dressings are often the most common places to find high-fructose corn syrup which she deems a "diet no-no."

Click here to see the Healthiest Store-Bought Salad Dressings

Furthermore, low-fat salad dressings prevent the body’s ability to absorb the carotenoid antioxidants in salad greens and tomatoes, thus greatly diminishing a major health benefit of eating salad. A Purdue University study found that certain healthy fats — like those in olive oil — were necessary to absorb the full benefits of the other vegetables in the salad.

So, what should you dress your salad with instead? Glassman recommends choosing dressings with the shortest list of recognizable ingredients, and prefarably an oil-based viniagrette. 

Next time you reach for your favorite salad dressing, make sure to check the nutrition label before making a decision. Alternatively, try making your own dressing at home using healthy fat sources like the avocado and olive oil in this Avocado and Mint Dressing.

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Why do they keep referring us to other pages? Why don't they just answer the question? Which dressing is the healthiest? Good grief! They make such a big deal out of it.


I found this article odd. The main part of it seemed fine, but when you open up list of most healthy it gets all whacked. Example in the top 4 healthy Italian dressings the talk changes from healthy fat is good in the article and helps absorb the nutrients, which I agree with, but then in looking at the comments for each one in the slideshow, the lack of all fat becomes the main focus of the rating with some on sodium, which I agree sodium is probably the worst part in the lineup. So the rank puts Newman's as worst of the 4 although it has the least sodium (the writers numbers are wrong for wishbones sodium) it has good fats, and is missing the high fructose corn syrup found in 2 of the 4. So it came in 4th because of good fats and a bit higher calories?? Also using a quote in the article, "recommends choosing dressings with the shortest list of recognizable ingredients" and compare. I have no affiliation with any of them, but I think the term "healthy" in no way should ever mean less calories, the calories must be defined and the rest of the ingredients taken into account. You could say higher calorie good fat dressing that helps you absorb nutrients "could" be much better really.

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