Do you know if salads are good for low card diets? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.
When you’re looking for low carb foods to maintain a certain diet, there’s always a question of what is on the list of ‘good’ versus ‘not-so-good’ dietary choices, even simple things like salads and sandwiches can be questionable.
When it comes to low carb foods, salads can generally be considered near the top of the list of good choices. However, how good a choice they are depends a great deal on what you put in them, as well as what dressings you add.
This article explores the ins and outs of salads and their place in low carb diets.
Table of Contents
Are Salads Good for Low Carb Diets?
When you think of salad, do you think of leafy greens with maybe some tomatoes, radishes, carrots, and other vegetables? Maybe even a light sprinkling of cheese and a few croutons?
This is the general make-up of a conventional salad, and it’s what most people think of when they consider a salad. Cheese and croutons aside, this is a pretty low carb meal, and even the cheese and croutons don’t need to cause too much of a problem.
But salads come in many shapes and forms, with many different components. So how do you know if the salad you have in mind is low carb friendly?
What Are the Recommended Elements of a Low Carb Friendly Salad?
Recommended elements of a healthy, low carb, and balanced salad include:
– Leafy Greens: Lettuce of any kind is usually a good bet.
– Non-Starchy Vegetables: Carrots, Beets, Cucumbers, Radishes, Mushrooms, Tomatoes…pretty much any traditional salad veggie is a good one. So are some less traditional options, like Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, or Peppers.
– Lean Protein of Some Kind: Chicken is the most popular choice, but not the only one. Fish, Tofu, and Eggs are great options. You can even use lentils or other beans, though this might up the carb count a little more than you want.
– A LIGHT Helping of Carbohydrates: It might sound counterintuitive, but a small helping of carbohydrates to round out your salad is recommended. Whole grains like quinoa, sweet potato, dried fruit, or corn are all good options.
– A LITTLE BIT of Fat: Again, it might sound counterintuitive, but it is recommended. A little bit of oil and vinegar dressing, avocados, olives, cheese, or nuts can help in this area, as long as you remember to apply in moderation.
Why Are Fats and Carbs Recommended as Part of the Salad?
The average person needs about 2000 calories to function at a healthy balance. A person on a diet generally cuts their calorie intake, according to the goals of their diet.
The idea of a salad is a low carb meal that makes you feel full without adding too much to your carb and calorie intake. But if you don’t add enough calories of some kind to the mix, you’ll find yourself needing more fuel sooner than you planned.
A small helping of carbs and fats mixed in with the main salad will provide the proper amount of energy, while the rest of the salad helps you feel full, as well as provides other beneficial nutrients.
What Should I Avoid if I Want to Use Salads as Part of a Low Carb Diet?
Not all salads are created equal, and some salads might not be the best choice.
Bean Salads, Potato Salads, Fruit Salads, or Macaroni Salads are examples of salads that aren’t likely to be good choices for low carb diets.
– Bean Salad: 14-45g carbs
– Potato Salad: 27-30g carbs
– Fruit Salad: 15-57g carbs
– Macaroni Salad: 40-41g carbs
These aren’t the only higher carb salads out there, but they’re some examples of salads that should be eaten sparingly or not at all if you’re aiming for a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle.
What Should I Leave Out Of Conventional Salads if I Want A Low Carb Meal?
– Bacon: Bacon is a high-fat and generally high-carb additive to salads. There are other meat choices that are much better options.
– Croutons: Croutons are basically bread, which isn’t the best choice for a low carb diet. If you’re looking at seasoned croutons, they’re even less likely to make the cut.
– Commercial Salad Dressings: A little bit of homemade oil and vinegar isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but watch out for shelf-bought dressings. They generally have a lot more carbs, especially dressings like Ranch or Blue Cheese.
– Low Fat and Fat-Free Dressings: They sound healthy, but the additives they use can sneak in carbs without warning, and those carbs can add up fast.
– Too Many Legumes or Starchy Vegetables: Beans aren’t a bad choice as a small additive, they just shouldn’t be the main part of the salad. The same can be said of other starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes.
Are There Any Kinds of Dressings I Can Use to Add Flavor to a Salad?
Done right, a salad has a flavor all its own. Still, if you want to add a little extra kick, you can try some of these suggestions.
– Homemade Oil and Vinegar Dressing: Vinegar will add a little bit of zing, and oil will help smooth it out.
– Pickled Vegetables: And we’re not talking just regular pickles. Pickled Beets, Pickled Carrots, Pickled Radishes…you can pickle pretty much anything and add it to a salad for a pop of extra flavor.
– A Sprinkling of Spice: Add a little Basil, Oregano, Cilantro, or other spices to add a little bit of pep to your bed of leafy greens. You can even mix them into your oil and vinegar dressing for a taste that’s uniquely your own.
Are Salads Keto Friendly?
They certainly can be keto friendly, as long as you keep track of your carbs when you’re putting together your salad.
Choose lower carb options for each of the elements:
– Iceberg Lettuce as the base
– Radishes, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Mushrooms as additions
– Grilled Chicken for Protein
– A sprinkling of Cheese
– A sprinkling of herbs
– Possibly a few chunks of Avocado
The above is an example of a nice ketogenic, and low carb, a salad that you can put together. A one cup serving of this type of salad can potentially have a few as 2-3 grams of carbs.
A quick look online or in the cookbook section of a local bookstore, or even in a health magazine, can give you tons of options for recipes to make tasty, low carb salads that you’ll enjoy.
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