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Every nutritionist recommends eating more leafy greens and vegetables of any kind for your health and to reduce risk for chronic disease. There is significant scientific agreement that diets rich in veggies and other plant-based foods help lower risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, systemic inflammation, and more.
Even though vegetables are crucial to optimal health, many people still aren’t getting enough on a daily basis. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2-3 cups of vegetables per day, but a 2022 study published by the CDC found that 10 percent of adults meet their daily vegetable recommendations.
Salads are a tasty and easy way to up your daily vegetable intake, but unfortunately, high-calorie toppings like cheese, candied nuts, tortilla strips, and croutons can make your salad’s calories equivalent to a fast-food quarter pounder. What’s more, many commercial salad dressings are high in fat, sodium, and sugar. A tw0-tablespoon serving of some dressings can add nearly 200 calories to your salad and have 2 teaspoons of sugar, as well as about one-quarter of your daily sodium intake.
The healthiest salad dressing is generally one you make yourself, but if you’d rather have the convenience of a store-bought dressing, there are some general tips to help you find the healthier options.
For one, vinaigrettes tend to be lower in calories, fat, and sodium compared to creamy ranch, Caesar, and blue cheese dressings. When purchasing a bottled dressing, read the nutrition facts label and follow these guidelines: (All figures below are based on a 2-tablespoon serving):
- No more than 150 calories
- Less than 2 grams of saturated fat
- No more than 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of added sugar
- Up to 275 milligrams of sodium or about 10% of your daily recommended limit
- Is made with a healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), avocado, sunflower, or another highly unsaturated fat-rich oil
Here are 10 of my favorite salad dressings that deliver on both taste and these nutrition guidelines. Bonus points are given to dressings that are certified organic. While organic certification does not relate to nutritional quality, a more sustainable food system ultimately impact the health of both the planet and people.
What’s the healthiest salad dressing? Annie’s Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette
Per 2 Tbsp: 100 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
This Annie’s dressing is best in class due to its moderate calorie and low saturated fat, sodium, and sugar counts. It’s made with simple ingredients, is GMO-free, and has no additives or preservatives. The balsamic vinaigrette is flavorful, balanced, and the perfect complement to a variety of salad greens and vegetables.
The Top 10 Healthy Salad Dressing Brands
Best Low-Calorie Salad Dressing: Bragg Organic Oil-Free Vinaigrette
Per 2 Tbsp: 15 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat) 0 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 0 g protein
While most traditional dressings have 100-150 calories per serving, this Bragg dressing provides a punch of flavor, without the calories, fat, or sodium of most other options. The vinaigrette is unique in that its main ingredients are apple cider vinegar and water. Apple cider vinegar can help temper blood sugar and help lower risk for type 2 diabetes, as well as aid in weight management.
Best Low-Fat Salad Dressing: Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing
Per 2 Tbsp: 40 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 1 g protein
This lower-calorie, low-fat dressing offers the delicious flavor and creaminess of a more decadent, high-fat dressing. Bolthouse uses low-fat yogurt and buttermilk to create this slimmed-down dressing that keeps fat, saturated fat, and calories in check. The sodium count is also significantly lower than many other low-fat bottled dressings.
Best Low-Sodium Salad Dressing: Organicville No Added Salt Italian Vinaigrette & Marinade
Per 2 Tbsp: 50 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 5 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
Thanks to the apple cider vinegar, organic sunflower oil, and myriad herbs and spices, this dressing delivers on taste, without having unnecessary sodium that is commonly found in other flavorful dressings.
Healthiest Low-Sugar Salad Dressing: Whole Foods Organic Herbs De Provence Vinaigrette
Per 2 Tbsp: 60 calories, 7 g fat (0 g saturated fat) 240 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
If you want a dressing with no added sugar or carbs, this robust dressing will make any salad pop with flavor. It’s made with healthy EVOO and more than a dozen herbs and spices, so you’ll get plenty of flavor, without any sugar to weigh you down.
Healthiest Caesar Salad Dressing: Annie’s Organic Caesar Salad Dressing
Per 2 Tbsp: 100 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat) 150 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein
Most creamy Caesar dressings are loaded with saturated fat and sodium. When you need a classic-style Caesar dressing, this dressing won’t disappoint. The fat counts are high, but not to worry, as this dressing is made with canola oil that is naturally low in saturated fat. It has the right amount of delicious parmesan flavor with a kick of black pepper for perfection.
Healthiest Italian Salad Dressing: Annie’s Tuscany Italian Salad Dressing
Per 2 Tbsp: 90 calories, 9 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
A classic Italian dressing is a must-have in every healthy kitchen due to its versatility. But some bottled varieties have tons of sodium and lots of added sugar. Not with Annie’s, though. Enjoy this dressing as a salad topper or marinade for your poultry or seafood. Annie’s Tuscany Italian keeps calories, fat, and sodium in check while providing a perky pick-me-up to your veggies.
Healthiest Green Goddess Salad Dressing: Primal Kitchen Green Goddess Salad Dressing & Marinade
Per 2 Tbsp: 120 calories, 12 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat) 180 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
According to some, Green Goddess dressing was developed in the 1920s when the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco created a verdant-hued dressing with scallions, parsley, tarragon, chives, mayonnaise, and vinegar. This version from Primal Kitchen is made with the flavorful and healthful avocado oil to keep saturated fat down. It’s also loaded with tarragon, chives, and parsley to provide its brilliant hue and health benefits.
Healthiest Ranch Salad Dressing: Drew’s Organics Vegan Ranch
Per 2 Tbsp: 130 calories, 13 g fat (1 g saturated fat) 270 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
As a creamy condiment, ranch dressing can perk up salads and many other savory favorites. Drew’s Organics offers a healthier twist on a classic ranch dressing. It’s low in saturated fat, because it’s made with high oleic sunflower oil, and has just one gram of sugar. It is a perfect companion to a veggie crudités, veggie sandwich, or roasted vegetables.
Healthiest Balsamic Salad Dressing: G. Hughes Sugar Free Balsamic Vinaigrette
Per 2 Tbsp: 60 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat) 210 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
This tangy dressing will provide a fresh zing to any salad with a lower calorie, fat, and sodium count compared to many of its balsamic vinaigrette peers. G. Hughes’ dressings use a blend of healthier vegetable oils, including olive oil. It also keeps sodium in check and has no added sugar.
Healthiest Vinaigrette Dressing: California Olive Ranch Garlic Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Per 2 Tbsp: 60 calories, 5 g fat (.5g saturated fat) 160 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 0 g protein
California Olive Ranch makes wonderful extra virgin olive oil, so you can rest assured that their dressings are created with their high-quality EVOO as a main ingredient. This dressing keeps calories and fat lower than higher-fat dressings by combining with apple cider vinegar. It gives a delicious tangy twist to your salad bowl.