Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Is your lunchtime salad hurting your health?

It has almost become common knowledge that the salads in McDonalds can contain as much, if not more, fat than their burgers. A crispy chicken and bacon salad, with a low fat Caesar dressing, contains 21g of fat! This is almost double the 12g of fat in the cheeseburger! Even adding chips to your cheese burger meal would not equal the amount of fat in the salad.

But whilst the public has become reasonably educated in the health dangers of McDonalds salad, there is a general assumption that any other salad is a healthy option. This leads people to grab their prepacked supermarket salads without checking the nutritional information meaning that the high levels of fat often contained within goes unnoticed!

One Prawn salad sold at Morrisons, as well as other supermarkets, contains 66.3g of fat, almost 6 times as much fat as in that McDonalds cheeseburger! In fact, if you were to eat a Big Mac, a large portion of chips and a chocolate brownie McFlurry, you would still be eating less fat than in this one salad at a grand total of 61g. Moreover, the average woman is recommended to eat no more than 70g of fat a day so this 'healthy' prawn salad contains almost 100% of the daily fat intake! An M & S Pasta with Tomato & Basil Chicken salad or even a Tesco Tuna Layered Salad would set a person back the same amount of fat as if they were to eat 6 creme eggs or nearly 14 Domino's cookies!



Unfortunately it is not just the fat content in these pre-packed salads that we need to be aware of but also the levels of salt! One study found that one in ten salads contained more salt than a Big Mac and that the majority of salads had more salt in than a packet of crisps!

However, fat is not entirely a negative thing and our bodies need a certain amount of it in order to be healthy. Indeed the World Health Organisation recommends that we eat 32g of healthy fats as a minimum. Fat aids our bodies in the absorption of the nutrients in vegetables and thus is highly important to the diets. Not all fats are created equal and so we should not just be avoiding all fats with a blanket ban but become slightly more discerning about which fat is in our food. Salad dressing is not therefore a sinful creation to be avoided at all costs, we just need to ensure that it is not saturated fats which it is high in. Indeed many of these salad dressings, can be high in polyunsaturated fats, fats which help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

So what's the answer? Don't abandon that salad as a lost cause but instead pick out ones with lots of greenery and vegetables as well as foods high in the good fats such as avocado, eggs, nuts and fish. Pay close attention to levels of trans and saturated fat to make sure that the fat you are eating at lunch is the healthy kind, the NHS recommends a woman has no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.



Sources

http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/content/ukhome/meal_builder.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-299653/McDonalds-salad-fatty-burger.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-1306536/Is-lunchtime-salad-healthy-Big-Mac-Mars-Bar.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/shop-salads-have-more-fat-than-a-big-mac-1718050.html
http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_diet_fats.htm

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