You might be opting for a healthy salad for lunch this summer, fighting off the urge to grab a sandwich or a Big Mac, but just how healthy is salad? From Pret’s Tuna Nicoise to Tesco’s Mediterranean Chicken options, what’s beneath the surface of advertised goodness?
We’ve asked an expert just how healthy is salad we buy in store?
What we thought: This looks great at just 249kcals and it looks balanced too with loads of salad bits balanced with the protein from the chicken and a small portion of pasta as the carbohydrate.
Our expert Georgia Head, Nutritionist at Fresh Fitness Food says: “Due to the low fat nature of this meal, the meal has an unbalanced macronutrient profile.
“Low fat meals do not necessarily mean they are healthy as manufacturers are forced to make up the calories from fat to preserve the taste of a meal, often packing them with sugar.
“Emulsifiers and stabilisers are also used to help preserve the taste that fat usually provides food items with.
“Be wary of these labels and always have a quick scan of the ingredients before deciding whether to buy or not.
“Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet and so should be consumed in moderation.”
LONDON!!! You have killed me today with you're utterly stupid traffic jams and temporary traffic lights and your stupid diversions!!! Was hoping to have a sit down lunch at a nice restaurant but hey ho wasn't to be so ran into pret and grabbed a Niçoise salad ( didn't use dressing) and a coffee – homeward bound now #slimmingworld #PretSalad #slimmingworldjourney #weightloss
What we thought: Oily fish is good for you, right? Plus eggs are full of protein and there’s loads of veg there. The only problem we see is the dressing which is apparently the devil but equally, it makes it taste good so we won’t be ditching it!
What Georgia the expert says: “The nicoise salad is low in protein and carbohydrate, but high in fat. Although the fat it contains can be considered to be ‘healthy fat’, the proportions are not ideal for a lunch time meal.
“The addition of new potatoes, the usual feature in a nicoise salad, would be favourable to balance the meal out.”
What Georgia says: “This salad is relatively balanced in terms of the proportions of protein, carbs and fat. However, although it makes for a great side salad, the portion is far too small to be enjoyed on its own at lunch time.”
What we thought: We’re sceptical because it’s from a fast food chain who produce things that are, let’s be honest, bloody delicious but full of fat and salt. However, at 184 kcals it doesn’t sound the worst!
What the expert says: “The grilled chicken and bacon salad has a very low proportion of carbohydrates, relative to protein and fat.
“Carbohydrates are the body’s main (and preferred) source of energy and so the addition of perhaps some wholewheat pasta would not only improve the macronutrient profile but also increase the total calories of this small portion.”
What we thought: At just £1.50 a pot, this is the kind of lunch on the run we can afford everyday. We wonder if that coleslaw will be quite high in fat though…
What Georgia says: “Ham hock tends to be high in salt as it is a cured meat.
“It is advised that diets high in salt should be avoided due to associations with raised blood pressure.
“The meat in this salad is high in fat, particularly saturated fat which you should consume in moderation due to links over the years with heart disease.”
What we thought: We love the look of this colourful salad. It seems to have healthy grains, plus always a winner is sweet potato and a Mexican vibe with the beans and guac. It’s great for when we fancy a meat-free day too!
The expert says: “This salad is packed full of fibre so it is a filling lunch time meal and will help avoid the 3pm slump.
“However, it is lacking in protein. Baked chicken or tofu would be a great addition to help boost the overall protein content.”
What we thought: This salad looks pretty basic. The honey and mustard dressing will no doubt liven it up a bit but it doesn’t look super appealing. Maybe good for a fussy eater?
What the expert says: “This meal is disproportionally high in fat.
“Coleslaw is usually laden with mayonnaise, ramping up the fat content.
“Switching it to brown rice or a bean salad will bump up the fibre content and keep you feeling fuller for longer.”
What we thought: This Gregg’s salad looks much more appetising with more colour – love the extras of beetroot dip and feta in a salad. Yum.
What the expert says: “Whilst this salad contains an array of nutritious components, it’s low in protein and extremely high in fat.
“The addition of a chicken, turkey or perhaps tofu if you are vegetarian will help to remedy the disproportionality of the meal.