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The idea that a salad might not be healthy can be a shocking truth to accept. However, you need to take a look at the ingredients of a traditional salad first.
Created in 1924 by an Italian native, Caesar salad was assembled with whatever he had on hand: romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, bread cubes, eggs, olive oil, and lemon juice. It was largely a flavor-based dish and focused very little on nutrition. (1)
Then, some ingredients were changed around, but overall, the salad still offers very little nutritional value and is rich in calories that come from the fried bread cubes, added sugar, and a rich serving of mayonnaise.
So while it may be tasty, Caesar salad is not a very healthy food, especially for regular consumption.
The good news is you can make some changes to make it a healthy addition to your diet.
How to Make a Caesar Salad Healthy
If you wish to consume a bowl of Caesar salad, here are some easy swaps you can make to turn Caesar salad into a healthy and filling meal.
1. Add a healthier base
Instead, you can choose baby spinach, kale, or arugula as an alternative or along with lettuce to boost the polyphenol content of your salad. These leafy greens can offer the following benefits:
- Reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering blood pressure (3)
- Improving brain health and reducing cognitive decline (4)
- Improving bone health by providing vitamin K, which is involved in the creation of new bone cells (5)
- Protecting against damage to the colon and preventing the risk of cancer (6)
If you do want to use lettuce as a base, then use green lettuce instead of red lettuce because it is healthier than red lettuce.
2. Increase vegetables
Adding vegetables to your Caesar salad can boost the nutritional value of your meal. Choose options such as onions, bell pepper, cucumber, broccoli, peas, and corn.
Studies have shown that daily consumption of vegetables:
In addition to providing the above benefits, vegetables add fiber to the diet, which is effective in improving the outcomes of constipation. (9)
3. Add a source of protein
Choose chicken breast as it has less fat and contains no cholesterol. (11) Additionally, choose low-fat cooking options such as grilling or baking to prepare your chicken.
4. Use low-fat dressing
Traditional Caesar salad dressing uses a lot of oil and mayonnaise, which can increase the caloric content of the salad.
Greek yogurt is a great alternative to a mayonnaise-based dressing as it provides a similar creamy flavor. It will also promote gut health by increasing the population of good bacteria, which increases immunity and promotes healthy aging. (12)
Prepare a Greek yogurt dressing by combining 1 tablespoon of yogurt, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, salt, black pepper, juice of half a lemon, and ½ tablespoon of olive oil.
5. Replace fried bread with alternatives
The croutons used to add crunch and texture to Caesar salad are often deep-fried bread pieces, which add a lot of calories to the meal, making it unhealthy.
A healthier alternative to adding a variety of textures is by using nuts. Chopped and toasted almonds, pistachios, or walnuts are great options. Nuts will also enhance the nutritive value of a Caesar salad.
Studies have found that regular consumption of nuts: (13)
- Aids in reducing obesity
- Lowers blood pressure to some extent
- Improves blood sugar control in diabetes
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases
Most-Asked Questions About Consuming Caesar Salad
Can children eat Caesar salad?
Yes! You can customize your salad by adding preferred vegetables and green leafy vegetables. You can also add 1 serving of boiled pasta to make it a fun meal.
What can be used in place of nuts if I have a nut allergy?
You can use whole-grain bread and toast it in a pan or crisp them in an air-fryer. You can also roast chickpeas or use baked veggie chips.
- Caesar salad was a dish made out of readily available ingredients that included lettuce, eggs, olive oil, and seasonings.
- All these ingredients are high in calories, and lettuce offers little nutritional value as compared to other green leafy vegetables, making Caesar salad a poor choice for health promotion.
- Making some healthy swaps can boost the nutritional value of Caesar salad.
- Use kale, baby spinach, or arugula instead of or in addition to lettuce leaves.
- Add more vegetables to boost fiber and micronutrient content.
- Replace a high-fat dressing made of mayonnaise with a low-calorie one made of substitutes such as Greek yogurt.
- Add grilled chicken or turkey breast to add protein and make it a complete meal.
- Instead of using friend croutons, use toasted nuts, veggie chips, or roasted chickpeas to add crunch and flavor.