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Salads and nutrients

Salads can be a good way to get your daily nutrients. Salads can also supply daily fiber. However, not all salads are healthy or nutritious. It depends on what is in the salad. It is OK to add small amounts of dressing or other toppings to add flavor. However, if you overdo it with high-fat add-ins, your salad may cause you to exceed your daily calorie needs and contribute to weight gain.

Prepare salads with colorful vegetables. If you have plenty of fresh vegetables in the salad, then you are getting healthy, disease-fighting nutrients.

Beware of the extra items you add to your vegetable salads.

  • You want to include some fat in your salad. Mixing vinegar with olive oil or other vegetable oil is good. You can also add nuts and avocado to include healthy fats. This will help your body to make the most of the fat soluble vitamins (A,D, E, and K).
  • Use salad dressing or added fats in moderation. Large amounts of prepared salad dressing or added fats can turn a healthy salad into a very high-calorie meal.
  • Chunks of cheese, bacon bits, nuts, and seeds can increase the amount of sodium, fat, and calories in a salad. Try to choose only one or two of these items to add to your colorful, raw veggies.
  • At the salad bar, avoid add-ons such as coleslaw, potato salad, and creamy fruit salads which can increase calories and fat.
  • Try to use a darker lettuce. Light green Iceberg has fiber but not as many nutrients as dark greens such as romaine, kale, or spinach.
  • Add variety to your salad with high-fiber, items such as legumes (beans), raw vegetables, fresh and dried fruit.
  • Include a protein in your salads to help make them a filling meal, for example beans, grilled chicken breast, canned salmon, or hard-boiled eggs.


Hall JE. Dietary balances; regulation of feeding; obesity and starvation; vitamins and minerals. In: Hall JE, ed. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 72.

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.

Review Date 1/7/2017

Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.