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What Are the Different Types of Low-Fat Salads?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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Salads, at least those made with leafy greens, are by nature low in fat -- it is only with the addition of creamy dressings, cheeses, or bacon that the fat content increases exponentially. There are many different ways to make low-fat salads, however, using the traditional leafy greens as well as beans, pasta, or other mixed vegetables. They can make an excellent, nutritious meal that is both low in fat, as well as low in carbohydrates. Fruit salads are also very low in fat, can be entirely customized to taste preference, and make a great breakfast or snack at any time of day. The best way to make low-fat salads is to first understand where the fat content in salads comes from.

Dressings, used in green salad and pasta salads, are the primary culprit for fat content. Creamy dressings are very high in fat, and one way to cut back on this is to simply swap them out for a basic oil and vinegar dressing that features an olive oil base. Though olive oil does contain fat, it is unsaturated fat that is beneficial for the body in moderate amounts. Bacon bits are another popular salad inclusion, but these also cause the fat content to spike; low-fat salads sometimes replace "real" bacon bits with soy imitation versions, which are lower in fat. Shredded cheese is another common source of fat in an otherwise healthy salad.

Some of the most basic types of low-fat salads are those made with leafy greens such as spinach or romaine, with the addition of fresh vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots. Fresh broccoli or cut peppers can also make good additions. For a little bit of protein, garbanzo beans are a great choice. Some people like to add walnuts and avocados to salad as well; keep in mind that these foods are high in fat, but again, it is unsaturated fat that is healthy when eaten in moderation.

Pasta or bean salads can be great choices for low-fat salads as well. Many people now use whole-grain pasta when preparing a pasta salad as well, and omit ingredients that are high in fat, such as sliced salami or ham. Preparing bean or pasta salads with a simple oil and vinegar dressing, as well as fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro, can be a great way to make a salad that is low in fat yet extremely flavorful.

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