The Best Ingredients to Put in Your Salad (as well as some of the worst)

Caroline Cederquist, M.D.—the creator of bistroMD and author of The MD Factor Diet—shares all the need-to-know basics below on some of the best and worst toppings to put on your salad. 

The Best
Think: crunchy veggies! "They make you feel full, and the very act of chewing them actually helps you enjoy eating your meal more," Dr. Cederquist says. Her "do" list includes vegetables that are high in fiber and vitamins:
* Cucumber
* Celery
* Carrots
* Kale
* Lettuce
* Bell pepper

But that’s not where you stop with the healthy salad ingredients. "Include a source of lean protein so that your salad is a complete meal, containing the amino acids you need to build and maintain muscle," Dr. Cederquist says.
* Chicken breast
* Tuna
* White fish
* Egg whites

The Worst
The funny thing about salad bars is that they usually have temptations that are creamy (blue cheese dressing, anyone?) high in fat, or just empty, nutrition-wise, all of which can send your otherwise-healthy salad into the calorie stratosphere. "Nuts, cheese, and dried cranberries can make a salad really fun to eat, but they can add calories," Dr. Cederquist says. "It’s OK to add them, but only a tiny bit of any—or all—of them. The veggies and protein are the stars of the meal." The toppings may also be packed with sodium and sugar. Here are some to avoid (or at least not totally pile on):
* Wontons
* Tortilla strips
* Fried chicken
* Croutons
* Dried fruits
* Bacon
* Starchy veggies (like corn niblets)

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