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How Do I Choose the Best Salad Dressing?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2016
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To choose the best salad dressing for your salads, you will want to consider the two most important factors: taste and health. Though salad dressing is largely a personal preference, some types and flavors of salad dressings pair better with certain types of salads. For instance, in a salad made up of delicate leafy greens, you will want a lighter dressing that doesn't overwhelm the leaves. Health is also a big concern with dressing; though the creamy dressings can be delicious, they are also typically loaded with saturated fat, and can undo some of the health benefits of eating a healthy salad in the first place.

Matching the tastes of your salad dressing to the tastes in your salad for the best possible combination is a good way to ensure that your salad is a delicious meal or side dish. First, consider the type of lettuce used in the salad; delicate mixes often work better with lighter, vinaigrette dressings whereas salads with denser. crunchier leaves can stand up better to heavier, creamy dressings. If the salad is sweeter and contains fruits, it often pairs well with a tangy dressing, such as a balsamic vinegar dressing. If the salad has a more peppery taste, pairing it with a sweeter dressing, such as a ginger dressing, can complement it well. The same holds true for pasta salad; though creamy pasta salads are perhaps the most common, some people prefer making vinegar-based pasta salad.

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Health concerns are a large reason why you might choose one salad dressing over the other. Creamy salad dressings are typically made with mayonnaise and are very high in saturated fat, making an otherwise healthy salad not only calorie-dense but also pretty bad for the heart as well. This is why choosing an oil and vinegar dressing is often a better choice.

Experts typically recommend going with a low-fat salad dressing rather than a fat-free salad dressing, however. This is because some fats -- the "healthy" unsaturated fats found in things like olive oil -- actually help the body to absorb nutrients from vegetables better, and increase feelings of fullness. This can help to make salads more filling and ultimately more nutritious. Another good idea is to look for salad dressing with only a few simple ingredients, rather than a long list of preservatives and other unnecessary additions. If all else fails, it is very easy to make your own salad dressing, thereby giving you complete control over what goes into it.

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