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Dietitian shares what salad dressings are the healthiest and which are the worst

Summertime is high season for healthy salads. But the dressing you choose can make a big difference. 

From classic Caesar to fat-free balsamic, we asked dietitian Helen Bond to assess the benefits of ten supermarket salad dressings. We then rated them.  

MARY BERRY’S CLASSIC SALAD DRESSING 235ml, £4, ocado.com Per serving (30ml): Calories, 120; saturated fat, 0.72g; sugar, 6g; salt, 0.36g

MARY BERRY’S CLASSIC SALAD DRESSING

235ml, £4, ocado.com

Per serving (30ml): Calories, 120; saturated fat, 0.72g; sugar, 6g; salt, 0.36g

WHAT’S IN IT: Rapeseed oil, water, sugar, white wine vinegar, seasonings including mustard seeds, basil, parsley.

EXPERT VERDICT: On the plus side, rapeseed oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fats, helping to keep cholesterol levels in check. Mustard seeds supply selenium, important for thyroid and immune function and healthy hair and skin.

A home-made oil and vinegar version would be healthier — avoiding the one-and-a-half teaspoons of sugar per serving (a fifth of the daily limit; per 100ml there is 20g sugar, which makes it higher in sugar than a digestive biscuit). 

And at 120 calories a serving, it’s also not waistline friendly. 2/10

HELLMANN'S SESAME & SOY DRESSING 210ml, £1.65, sainsburys.com Per serving (30ml): Cal, 77; saturated fat, 0.66g; sugar, 2g; salt, 0.44g

HELLMANN’S SESAME & SOY DRESSING 210ml, £1.65, sainsburys.com Per serving (30ml): Cal, 77; saturated fat, 0.66g; sugar, 2g; salt, 0.44g

HELLMANN’S SESAME & SOY DRESSING

210ml, £1.65, sainsburys.com

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 77; saturated fat, 0.66g; sugar, 2g; salt, 0.44g

WHAT’S IN IT: Water, cider vinegar, rapeseed oil, soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds and oil, seasonings and spices.

EXPERT VERDICT: Sesame seeds are high in iron but there’s less than 1g per serving. 

Sprinkling over a couple more teaspoons of these would provide 7 per cent of your daily iron needs (try a Chinese-style salad with romaine, spring onions, peanuts, coriander, plus this dressing and sesame seeds).

The dressing is medium calorie, but one serving has around 1/14th of your daily salt, quite high for a tiny part of your overall diet. It also has half a teaspoon of added sugar. 

On the plus side it’s lower in calories than others here. 6/10

WAITROSE BLUE CHEESE DRESSING 235ml, £1.86. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 180; saturated fat, 1.6g; sugar, 2g; salt, 1.11g

WAITROSE BLUE CHEESE DRESSING 235ml, £1.86. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 180; saturated fat, 1.6g; sugar, 2g; salt, 1.11g

WAITROSE BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

235ml, £1.86.

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 180; saturated fat, 1.6g; sugar, 2g; salt, 1.11g

WHAT’S IN IT: Rapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, water, sugar, blue cheese powder, egg yolk, salt.

EXPERT VERDICT: Adding 180 calories-worth of dressing to your salad is like adding a chocolate bar. This has a huge amount of salt, too — one serving has nearly one fifth of the recommended 6g daily maximum. 

The 4 per cent blue cheese powder is not enough to add calcium to your diet but raises the fat content: there’s 8 per cent of your recommended saturated fat limit per serving. Best avoided.1/10

TRACKLEMENTS HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING 240ml, £3.29, ocado.com Per serving (30ml): Cal, 164; saturated fat, 1.95g; sugar, 3.6g; salt, 0.42g

TRACKLEMENTS HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING 240ml, £3.29, ocado.com Per serving (30ml): Cal, 164; saturated fat, 1.95g; sugar, 3.6g; salt, 0.42g

TRACKLEMENTS HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING

240ml, £3.29, ocado.com

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 164; saturated fat, 1.95g; sugar, 3.6g; salt, 0.42g

WHAT’S IN IT: Sunflower oil, cider vinegar, honey, mustard, water, sugar, salt.

EXPERT VERDICT: This contains only ingredients you’d find at home, i.e. nothing artificial, which is a plus, but a serving contains 164 calories (roughly the same as a bag of crisps) and nearly a teaspoon of added sugar.

There’s also nearly a tenth of your daily limit of saturated fat per serving, but this is offset by a much higher level of unsaturated fats (sunflower oil supplies both types), which is healthier and good for keeping cholesterol levels in check.

Sunflower is also a good source of vitamin E, which protects our cell DNA from damage — a serving could supply more than your daily vitamin E needs. 

Vitamins E and C work together to protect cells from damage, so ensure the salad contains vitamin C-rich ingredients such as red pepper or spinach. 4/10

TESCO MANGO & CHILLI SALAD DRESSING

TESCO MANGO & CHILLI SALAD DRESSING 250ml, 85p. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 66; saturated fat, 0.6g; sugar, 3g; salt, 0.4g

TESCO MANGO & CHILLI SALAD DRESSING 250ml, 85p. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 66; saturated fat, 0.6g; sugar, 3g; salt, 0.4g

250ml, 85p.

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 66; saturated fat, 0.6g; sugar, 3g; salt, 0.4g

WHAT’S IN IT: Water, rapeseed oil, mango puree, red chilli puree.

EXPERT VERDICT: The mango puree is enough to add flavour but not nutritional goodness. But have it with chunks of the fruit, watercress and prawns for a healthy salad that provides plenty of vitamin C, fibre and protein.

The sugar content per serving (8 to 9 per cent of your daily limit) is less than healthy, but this dressing could still be a good option for slimmers, with its acceptable level of 66 calories a serving. 

The chilli heat may also mean you use less dressing for the same flavour impact.5/10

SAINSBURY’S SWEET BALSAMIC

SAINSBURY'S SWEET BALSAMIC 260ml, 85p. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 18; saturated fat, trace; sugar, 1.74g; salt, 0.23g

SAINSBURY’S SWEET BALSAMIC 260ml, 85p. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 18; saturated fat, trace; sugar, 1.74g; salt, 0.23g

260ml, 85p.

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 18; saturated fat, trace; sugar, 1.74g; salt, 0.23g

WHAT’S IN IT: Water, balsamic and red wine vinegars, grape juice concentrate, sugar, corn flour, seasonings.

EXPERT VERDICT: Despite ‘sweet’ in the name it doesn’t have as much sugar as many salad dressings, at a little less than half a teaspoon in a 30ml serving.

It’s amazingly low in calories and gets brownie points for being one of the lower salt dressings. 

As it’s fat free, it’s worth adding healthy fat sources, such as seeds or avocado, to your salad to ensure fat-soluble antioxidants — such as the beta carotene in leaves and tomatoes — are better absorbed.9/10

PIZZA EXPRESS HOUSE LIGHT SALAD DRESSING

PIZZA EXPRESS HOUSE LIGHT SALAD DRESSING 235ml, £1.50, most supermarkets. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 89; saturated fat, 1.26g; sugar, 1.38g; salt; 0.66g

PIZZA EXPRESS HOUSE LIGHT SALAD DRESSING 235ml, £1.50, most supermarkets. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 89; saturated fat, 1.26g; sugar, 1.38g; salt; 0.66g

235ml, £1.50, most supermarkets.

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 89; saturated fat, 1.26g; sugar, 1.38g; salt; 0.66g

WHAT’S IN IT: Water, olive oil, vinegar, egg, salt, other seasonings.

EXPERT VERDICT: A creamy ranch-style dressing with some of the oil replaced with water. 

‘Light’ only has to mean 30 per cent lower in fat or calories — in this case fat — than an original version of the product, so if you were hoping for a low-calorie dressing, you’d be disappointed because this has more calories than a chocolate digestive. 

The sugar is low and the saturated fat content is fine.

As for salt content — a serving supplies over a tenth of your recommended limit. 2.5/10

MORRISONS CAESAR DRESSING 175ml, £1.10. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 120; saturated fat, 1.2g; sugar, 0.8g; salt, 0.36g

MORRISONS CAESAR DRESSING 175ml, £1.10. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 120; saturated fat, 1.2g; sugar, 0.8g; salt, 0.36g

MORRISONS CAESAR DRESSING

175ml, £1.10.

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 120; saturated fat, 1.2g; sugar, 0.8g; salt, 0.36g

WHAT’S IN IT: Rapeseed oil, water, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, vinegar sugar, garlic, Worcester sauce and other seasonings.

EXPERT VERDICT: Caesar dressing is often thought to be one of the worst dressings because of its creaminess, but this version isn’t too bad. 

Unlike home-made Caesar salad dressing which may be packed with cheese, it’s not high in saturated fat or sugar, and 120 calories per serving isn’t awful.

The 7 per cent Parmigiano Reggiano gives only 2.5 per cent of your daily calcium per serving.

Use this dressing to bind a vibrant slaw of red cabbage, apple, carrot and red onion which would contain more antioxidants than traditional iceberg lettuce. 6/10

ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL FRENCH VINAIGRETTE

ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL FRENCH VINAIGRETTE 255ml, £1.29. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 102; saturated fat, 0.6g; sugar, 3.8g; salt, 0.32g

ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL FRENCH VINAIGRETTE 255ml, £1.29. Per serving (30ml): Cal, 102; saturated fat, 0.6g; sugar, 3.8g; salt, 0.32g

255ml, £1.29.

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 102; saturated fat, 0.6g; sugar, 3.8g; salt, 0.32g

WHAT’S IN IT: Water, vinegar, rapeseed oil, sugar, mustard and seasonings.

EXPERT VERDICT: Made with Chardonnay vinegar and a combination of ordinary and cold-pressed rapeseed oil. 

While this may affect the flavour, it makes no nutritional difference. There’s still nearly a teaspoon of added sugar per serving, though the salt and saturated fat contents aren’t bad.

Make a sugar-free version by shaking together oil and vinegar in a 2:1 ratio, then add mustard. 3/10

RAW VIBRANT LIVING ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR WITH TURMERIC & GINGER

500ml, £4.29, ocado.com

RAW VIBRANT LIVING ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR WITH TURMERIC & GINGER 500ml, £4.29, ocado.com Per serving (30ml): Cal, 2; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 0.2g; salt, trace

RAW VIBRANT LIVING ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR WITH TURMERIC & GINGER 500ml, £4.29, ocado.com Per serving (30ml): Cal, 2; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 0.2g; salt, trace

Per serving (30ml): Cal, 2; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 0.2g; salt, trace

WHAT’S IN IT: Apple cider vinegar, water, ginger, turmeric, chilli.

EXPERT VERDICT: A popular alternative to standard dressings, because it’s low in calories and people believe it reduces blood fat levels.

There is a perception that vinegar aids weight loss, perhaps by stimulating fat burning. 

A 2009 study in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found people consuming 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar had modest weight loss (2lb-4lb) and lower triglyceride levels than those who drank none.

But this study didn’t specifically use apple cider vinegar and, overall, the evidence that it’s an aid to weight loss isn’t compelling.

This product contains curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) and ginger, which have anti-inflammatory effects, but the quantities per serving are low and I doubt if they had much effect.

A vinegar dressing works well with potato salads — the acid slows the release of sugar from the potatoes, reducing blood sugar and insulin spikes that may increase diabetes risk.

You’d need to add oil to turn this into a proper dressing. 

If mixed half-and-half with olive oil, this would increase to 130 calories per two tablespoon serving. 7/10

Secrets of an A-list body 

This week: Andie MacDowell’s shoulders

At the LA premiere of her new film, Ready Or Not, Andie MacDowell wore an off-the-shoulder dress. The actress, 61, says her favourite ways to exercise are hiking and yoga.

‘Hiking is more than just exercise — your cortisol levels are balanced by walking in nature,’ she said.

WHAT TO TRY: The weighted stand-up works every muscle and strengthens shoulders. Lying on your back, hold a weight in your right hand. Raise it so your right arm is almost straight in front of you. Engage your core muscles and place your left hand on the floor behind your body to get in a standing position while holding the weight aloft. Keep your right arm straight throughout the move and finish with the weight directly above your head.

Repeat five times on each side, building to ten.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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