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Is your salad as healthy as you think it is? Hidden fat and calories may be sabotaging your favorite salad creations. Many of the ingredients we love in the salads we make at home and at the salad bar aren’t as innocent as you might think, and can actually make that salad, once a healthy option, worse for you than a cheeseburger. So here are some everyday salad toppings to avoid and what to swap them with for a healthy and delicious low fat, low calorie salad! (photo credit here)
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Creamy Dressings:
These can pack up to 180 calories and 18 grams of fat per serving. (photo credit here)
Salad Swap: Opt for a vinaigrette made with olive oil for 86 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving. As an added benefit the fats in olive oil are the good heart healthy variety.
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Croutons:
These crunchy treats can add up to 122 calories and 2 grams of fat per 2 ounce portion with little nutritional value. (photo credit here)
Salad Swap: Try cooked, chilled quinoa on your salad. This ancient grain has a meaty texture and nutty flavor, and a 2 ounce portion has 55 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of protein and is a good source of magnesium, iron, Vitamin B6 and Calcium.
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Candied Nuts:
 A 1 oz portion of candied pecans can have up to 190 calories an 17 grams of fat. (photo credit here)
Salad Swap: Try slivered almonds instead, with 80 calories and 7 grams of fat in a 1 oz portion.
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Dried Fruit:
From cranberries to blueberries, fruits of all kind now come dried. Often sprinkled atop salads these sweet treats can add 130 calories per 2 ounce portion. (photo credit here)
Salad Swap: With summer around the corner, low sugar berries like strawberries are abounding. A 2 ounce portion of fresh strawberries (1 large or 2 medium) will add only 18 calories to your salad.
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Meat and Seafood:
Adding protein to your salad is a great choice as it will keep you full and satisfied. Avoid the fried varieties like chicken and shrimp, as 2 fried chicken strips will add 11 grams of fat and 200 calories to your salad, and 3 to 5 fried shrimp can add 12 grams of fat and 225 calories. (photo credit here)
Salad Swap: Opt for grilled or broiled meat and seafood instead. 2 grilled chicken tenders will add only 98 calories and 4 grams of fat, and 3 to 5 grilled shrimp 101 calories and 3 grams of fat, and will keep you just as full and satisfied!
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Cheese:
According to health experts at Shape.com, full fat cheeses are healthier nutritionally than their low fat versions, but a 2 ounce serving of cheddar boasts 11 grams of fat and 133 calories. (photo credit here)
Salad Swap: Opt for stronger tasting cheeses, like bleu cheese or gorgonzola. You can use a smaller 1 ounce portion and still add a satisfying, flavorful punch with only 5 grams of fat and 60 calories.
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Canned or Pickled Vegetables:
Artichoke hearts and olives are delicious additions to a salad, but choosing the right variety is vital to keeping your meal low fat and healthy. Artichoke hearts packed in oil can add 4 grams of fat and 55 calories in 4 pieces. (photo credit here)
Salad Swap: Opt for veggies packed in water instead. 4 pieces of artichokes packed in water weigh in at 0 grams of fat and only 30 calories. Choose black olives instead of the green variety, as they have half the calories and fat.