‘Healthy’ salads aren’t always healthy

By Ruchi Shah
Columnist

Welcome back, new and old Lions! Whether this fall semester came too soon or not soon enough for you, chances are that this academic year already has you in a state of frenzy. With classes just beginning, you’re likely to be struggling to get into the swing of things.

In addition to managing your course load, you’re also worried about maintaining your physique. But there is no need to become self-conscious.

A new year means new beginnings and it’s perfectly understandable that you want to look good to feel good. However, you don’t have very much time on your hands. Being on campus makes you susceptible to what I like to call the “Fall 15,” rather than the “Freshman 15.” Everyone is equally vulnerable to this unhealthy weight gain.

As a student, you’re bright enough to be well aware of this and consequently, you’ve most likely adopted the salad diet. You’ve convinced yourself that forgoing your daily exercise in favor of making a salad into a meal will enable you to remain physically fit. Your misguided mind is misleading your body.

Eickhoff boasts quite an extensive salad bar, complete with options that range from a multitude of veggies to hummus. How healthy your salad truly is depends heavily on how you dress it up. Many students automatically opt for the fat-free dressing, assuming it’s naturally healthiest. Although it does contain fewer calories, a majority of these fat-free dressings are very high in sugar, about two teaspoons per serving. The recommended serving of sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association, is no more than six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men. In addition, fat-free dressing prevents you from absorbing the carotenoid antioxidants in the tomatoes and greens in your salad. These antioxidants help reduce the risk of heart disease. Who knew that fat-free dressing was actually a counterproductive ingredient in your salad? In fact, a study has shown that those individuals eating salads with full-fat dressing absorbed twice the amount of carotenoid antioxidants compared to individuals eating salads with fat-free dressing. Instead, it’s best to top your salad off with vinegar for a healthy, flavorful zest.

Another popular habit among students is to load their salads with croutons and cheese as a means of making their meal more filling. They convince themselves these additions don’t matter. After all, they’re still eating a “healthy” salad, right? Wrong. Excessive amounts of croutons and cheese are filling your stomach with unhealthy, unnecessary calories.

An alternative to these fatty fillers, also found in Eick’s salad bar, is hard-boiled eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are high in protein and contain healthy, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Your lettuce also makes a difference. All too often, students select iceberg lettuce, presuming that what lines their bowl and serves as the bed for all the other veggies doesn’t matter. But it does matter. The rule of thumb for lettuce is: the darker, the healthier. Therefore, opt for the spinach instead. It contains lutein, which is suggested to protect against cancer and blindness.

Last but not least, make sure your salad has a myriad of colors and the future of your health is sure to remain bright!