When you first vow to change your diet, the chances are that you see prepackaged salads as a Godsend. You don’t know the first thing about healthy foods right now, after all. These easy options ensure that you’re at least getting into the habit of eating better. For the first few weeks, you may find that pre-packaged salads are about the only thing you can reach for without worry when you hit the store. And, you’re already starting to feel better as a result of your efforts.
The bad news is that, while salads like these are probably better for you, they aren’t always the best option. As a matter of fact, pre-packaged choices are often bad news for our health. That’s not to say that they’re worse than your diet before. But, once you’ve got past that first hurdle, you might want to think about ditching these for whole salad items which you prepare yourself. Though these don’t have the convenience of pre-packaged options, investing in something as simple as these Spyderco knives could see you shredding your own salads in no time. If you’re not sure why you should, keep on reading to find out what’s wrong with those pre-packaged options.
Less nutrition all around
Given that this journey is all about a healthier diet, it’s worth noting that pre-packaged salads have far less nutrition than their fresher counterparts. As such, that big bowl of greens might not provide you with quite as much goodness as you think. That’s because the production line for pre-packaged options tends to be a whole load longer. According to Jo Robinson, the author of Eating on the Wild Side, said salads like these ‘might be two weeks old’ in some cases. And, we all know that nutrients become less and less effective as time passes. That’s why, in most cases, veggies frozen straight from fresh have the highest nutrient content of all. And, that’s why you could benefit from picking up whole salad stuff and shredding it yourself. Even if you shred the whole thing and keep it in an airtight container at home, you’re sure to see much higher health benefits. At least, you will if you eat it within a few days. If you do still insist on prepared stuff, remember always to check those dates. By opting for long dates, you can at least reduce that shelf time and hopefully see more benefits as a result.
A breeding ground for bacteria
Nutrition or not, prepared salads are always a breeding ground for bacteria. In the past, they’ve been behind many an outbreak of issues like salmonella. Salads which include things like bean sprouts are especially bad for this. That said, seemingly harmless mixtures can also spell trouble. For the most part, this is because of the preparation itself. Sadly, any salad items become a breeding ground for bacteria when cut. This is because there are plenty more places for bacteria to hide. Even when washed, salads like these can carry bacteria and help them to grow. That’s because those grooves and slices give them somewhere to hide even during washing. By then placing those bacteria in a sealed bag, you’re basically begging them to grow out of control. To some extent, you may even find that washing becomes null and void by the time you take that salad home. To consider how serious this can be for your health, bear in mind that three people died in the U.S. after a breakout of Escherichia coli from packaged spinach back in 2006. And, that’s by no means an isolated incident. By comparison, buying fresh and washing thoroughly ensures that you get all those nasty bacteria before they have a chance to do damage.
Potentially fattening dressings
Given that you’re opting for salad because you consider it a healthy food, it’s also worth noting that the dressing which comes with prepackaged salads can be anything but. High oil content in options like these can tip the unhealthy scales alone. That’s before you even consider that some dressings have straight up sugar in them. On top of all that, most dressing sachets which come with salads like these are pretty sizeable. You may find that you’re tipping your salad way up the calorie count by pouring the whole thing on top. In an ideal world, the recommended amount of dressing is just two tablespoons. Most sachets have at least double that. Of course, the dressing is the best part of a salad for many of us. But, there’s no need for this high-calorie intake when you can make your own healthy alternatives with half the fat content. By preparing your salads, you can turn to these better options every time. Simple things, like replacing vegetable oil with healthier choices such as olive oil can make a huge difference. You can also then control how much you use so that your healthy options stays healthy.
At the very least, it’s worth bearing in mind that prepared salads don’t always come with the best variety. Sometimes, for example, you only get one type of leaf. Even mixed salad bags are usually pretty limited in their choices. Yet, you and I know that variety is often the thing which makes salad such a healthy choice. If you’re going to make a meal of this, you need to get a rich variety of ingredients. That means including leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and even avocado for healthy fats. Though some packaged salads may include as much variety as this, most don’t. And, that alone could be the undoing of your diet. The only real way around that would be to buy various packed salads and mix them, but that’s going to get expensive. By comparison, stocking up on plenty of salad stuff for your fridge means you can get creative and ensure your nutrition all at the same time. When that happens, we can bet that your health will just keep on getting better.