10 Worst Salad Dressings for Diabetics

Salads are good example of foods that type 2 diabetics can enjoy with relatively low guilt. With the right greens and other elements added, salad can contain a number of nutrients that diabetics need to remain healthier. The fact that it’s possible to create tasty salads with plenty of fiber makes them even better choices.

What can derail all those good intentions when you sit down to enjoy a salad? The choice of salad dressing might add carbohydrates, fat, excess salt, calories, and sugar that you don’t really need. That means being aware of what you put in your home-made salad as well as reading the labels of store-bought salad dressings before you add anything on.

You also want to consider the calorie content per serving. Why does this matter? Part of living with type 2 diabetes and living well involves managing your weight. Simply put, it’s easier to keep your glucose levels within a healthy range if you’re not carrying around extra pounds.

Your Strategy for Evaluating Different Salad Dressings

Here’s a secret that will help. Finding salad dressings that are relatively low in carbs isn’t all that difficult. It’s the other things that you don’t need that can trip up your efforts. Since diabetics are at a greater risk for issues like cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, strokes, and kidney issues, be mindful of additives in salad dressings that could further increase those risk factors. In other words, do look at the carb content, but understand there’s more you should check before you pour.

That doesn’t mean all salad dressings are off the menu. It does mean that you want to limit or avoid some of the dressings found on the market today. Keep in mind the actual contents may vary from brand to brand, so continue to read those labels. As you do, be aware that the following ten dressings are not likely to be among the best choices for type 2 diabetics.

A Quick Word About Portion Size

Remember that the labels on those bottled salad dressings will display nutritional information based on the defined portion. If you look closely, that portion may be no more than two tablespoons. To get an idea of what two tablespoons look like, grab a spoon and use it to add two tablespoons worth into a small dish. The visual will make it all the easier to compare to the amount of dressing you usually add to your salad.

There’s a good chance you’ll take one look and wonder how anyone could consider two tablespoons a reasonable portion. Without debating the merits of the amount used for providing nutritional information, the reality is that when you look at the nutrition list on a bottle of dressing, this is the amount under consideration.

It’s up to you to do the math. If you’re the type who likes to dowse your salad liberally with the dressing of your choice, adjust the amount of salt, fat, cholesterol, and carbs accordingly. This is not the time to pretend that what you normally use is actually the serving size described on the label. If the sum you come up with causes a gasp, then you know it’s time to reconsider which dressings you use and the amount that you add to your salads.

1. Thousand Island Dressing

You’ll likely see thousand island dressing included on many lists of low-carb dressings. That’s because many brands will contain somewhere around 4 carbs per two-tablespoon serving. Even if you prefer more, it’s not hard to keep the carbs from your dressing around 12 or so.

What makes this dressing a less desirable choice for type 2 diabetics is the amount of sodium and saturated fats that may be included in commercial brands. Those are added to enhance the taste.

There may also be added sugars that make a particular band higher in simple carbohydrates. Calorie-wise, most brands will provide around 110 per serving. Since these can contribute to health problems like weight gain, heart issues, and high levels of bad cholesterol, it might be worth it to look for an alternative.

2. Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

In like manner, it’s not really the carbohydrates in most brands of buttermilk dressing that you have to be concerned with. Many brands have around 2 total carbs per serving. That’s not bad and certainly allows you to indulge without exceeding your carb limit per meal.

Fat is one of the issues that can create an issue here. Many ranch dressing brands have plenty of it. You’ll also find ample amounts of sodium are added. If you select a fat-free ranch dressing, the sodium is highly likely to be double or triple what you find in the regular type.

The fat content may cause you to think that buttermilk ranch dressing will have more calories than some other choices. You’re right about that. On average, there will be around 170 calories per two tablespoons.

When it comes to nutrients that your body needs, there’s not a lot to find in any form of ranch dressing. While it’s tasty, it doesn’t really do anything for you. It would be better to look for choices that provide at least more fiber, since your body can put that to good use.

3. Caesar Dressing

Caesar dressings do tend to have more carbs that a few of the other creamy dressings on this list. Don’t be surprised if the brand you check contains around 9-10 carbs per serving. That should be enough to give you pause, but there’s more that needs to be considered.

Commercial Caesar dressings may fall back on sodium as a flavor enhancer. There are brands that will contain as much as 300 mg of sodium. That’s not something you need.

When it comes to fat, there are brands that don’t have a lot. Others may contain up to 20 grams of fat per serving. Since that covers roughly a third of the fat you need per day, it may not be the best choice.

In terms of calories, Caesar isn’t the best but it’s not the worst either. Many brands will have around 90 calories per serving.

Even so, take heart. There are Caesar dressings out there without the extra sodium and fat. That leaves you to decide if the carb content is worth it.

4. Light Italian Dressing

You would think that Italian dressing with its blend of oils, spices, and vinegar would be a great choice. In fact, it can be a great one if you make it at home with your own olive oil, choice of vinegar, a selection of spices that you choose and measure accordingly. When it comes to commercial dressings, things get a little more complicated.

Some brands use oils that are higher in fat. They may also include more sodium than you need. This is especially true when lite Italian dressings that attempt to compensate for lower fat by upping the sodium content. It’s true that you’re likely to have few carbs per serving, with many light Italian brands having no more than 1.8 carbs per two tablespoons.

The calorie content of light Italian dressing is often a draw; you’ll find some brands that have around 30 calories per serving. As with many other dressings, it’s the additional ingredients like sodium that may not be good for you.

5. French Dressing

When it comes to carbohydrate content, French dressing isn’t the worst choice, but it’s far from the best. Typically, you can depend on this type of dressing to contain 7 grams of carbs per two tablespoons. The total fat content is somewhat in the middle too, with around 14 grams being true for many brands. It’s not unusual to find brands that provide around 70 calories per serving. Even the sodium is somewhat lower than other types of bottled salad dressings, coming in around 180 mg, although you will find some containing as much as 240 mg.

So why include it in a list of the worst salad dressings for diabetics? While the amounts of the things you don’t really need are somewhat moderate, the combination of all of them is not really in your best interests. Consider the fact that you may or may not be able to limit yourself to the recommended serving size and that makes things worse. If you do opt for a lite or fat-free version of French dressing, expect the sodium content in a single serving to be significantly more.

6. Honey Mustard Dressing

While you may already consider the presence of honey to be enough to put this one on the list of salad dressings to avoid or at least use sparingly, many would assume the mustard part would be just fine. In fact, mustard is an excellent choice for people who want to limit their carb intake. It’s the other ingredients in this particular dressing that you need to watch.

Many of the calories in this dressing come from the fat content. In fact, there are brands in which 80% of the average calorie content of 140 is due to fat. Along with that, you may find more cholesterol per serving than you want to include in the meal. That’s especially true if you’re adding something like baked skinless chicken to the salad.

Like French dressing, the carbohydrate content for honey mustard dressing isn’t as bad as you might expect. Some brands have no more than 7 grams per two-tablespoon serving. Even so, there’s likely to be more sodium as a way to sharpen the taste and contrast with the honey. If you do crave some of this dressing, try to limit it to one serving.

7. Fat-Free Catalina Dressing

Catalina dressing is among the options that tend to contain more carbs. Most brands will have around 8.7 carbs per serving. Cholesterol content in most brands is nil, so there’s no worries there. In terms of calories, most brands will have around 90 of them, which isn’t too bad. You may find that the fat-free versions rely on a lot of sodium to make up for less fat and to enhance the taste while also offering lower calorie content.

Remember that you do want to get some fiber if possible. One drawback of any type of Catalina dressing is that it will not provide any amount of dietary fiber. Unless you’re craving the tangy taste, it’s a good idea to consider a different option for flavoring the salad.

8. Sesame Ginger Dressing

Just looking at the name isn’t likely to raise any red flags. You know that a reasonable amount of sesame seeds is a healthy snack. You also know that ginger is an herb that’s good for a number of reasons. That would lead you to think that sesame ginger dressing would be a smart choice.

Here’s what you should know about the contents and how they relate to a healthy diabetic diet. There’s more total fat to be found per serving than you may think. The total number of carbs is 7 grams per serving, which is in the higher range for dressings on this list. In terms of calories, most brands will have around 70 in each serving.

There’s no protein to be found, and the sodium level is somewhat high. If you’re a type 2 diabetic who is already experiencing some cardiovascular issues or happen to be taking medication to get blood pressure problems under control, this is not the best choice.

9. Blue Cheese Dressing

You may be surprised to learn that blue cheese dressing doesn’t include a lot of carbohydrates. Depending on the brand that you buy, it may have none at all. Other brands may have up to 2 grams per serving. In the world of salad dressings, especially creamy salad dressings, that’s quite good. The same is true for the calorie content; many brands have around 20 grams per two tablespoons.

The issue here has to do with the total fat found in blue cheese dressing. That may or may not be an issue for you, depending on the amount of fat you get from other parts of the diet. Just keep in mind that a single serving of two tablespoons may supply as much as 18% of the dietary fat you need each day. Consider what that means if you’re the type who’s likely to use three or more servings of salad dressing before you’re happy.

There are low fat versions of blue cheese dressing to try. If you do, take a good look at the label. You’re likely to find that quite a bit of sodium is added to compensate for the lack of fat. Where regular blue cheese dressing may have less than 100 mg of sodium, the low fat alternatives may have as much as three times the sodium content.

10. Greek Goddess Dressing

The creamy texture is certainly a lure. Many also like the light green hue and how it looks on a salad. The fact that it contains healthy ingredients like chives and chervil (also known as French parsley) also tend to make it seem like a good choice. In some ways, that’s true. In other ways, you may want to think twice before going with this salad dressing.

There’s not much to worry about when it comes to carbohydrates. Many brands will contain slightly over 1 gram. There’s not much cholesterol to be found either. Sugar content is low. Calorie content is mild, with many brands providing around 64 per serving. There’s even a small amount of protein to be found in this dressing option.

What makes Greek Goddess dressing one that you may want to choose with care? The sodium content is the thing to keep in mind. Per serving, it doesn’t seem too bad, with many brands containing less than 150 mg per serving. That can increase quite a bit if you want more than two tablespoons for your salad. If you look around and find a fat-free version, the amount of sodium will jump a lot.

Get Out Your Recipe Books

If you’re becoming discouraged by what you see on supermarket and health food store shelves, there’s another route to check. Dig out those diabetic cookbooks that loved ones have bought for you. Tucked away in some of them will be recipes for making salad dressings from scratch. At least a few of them will likely be for your favorite dressings. Best of all, they will contain ingredient alternatives that help to keep the fat, cholesterol, and sodium levels within reason as well as cut the carb content. You may find a few that up the content per serving of nutrients your body needs.

Making your own salad dressing is not much of a chore. This is true even if you don’t consider yourself to be a whiz in the kitchen. It’s easy enough to keep the ingredients on hand and make a batch whenever the mood strikes. By making just enough to get you through a few days, there’s never any worries about the products going bad or wondering what sort of preservatives are included.

Wrapping Things Up

You may think there’s not many choices left to consider other than vinaigrette dressings. That’s not the case. You do want to monitor the ingredients and amounts used in any type of dressing that you want to consume. Also, make it a point to consider the amount of dressing you add to the salad. Do you really need to drown all the good stuff in order to enjoy the taste of ranch dressing? Probably not. Try using a recommended serving size (or maybe two) and see what you think.

As with all things related to following a diabetic diet, weigh the options carefully, measure the amounts, and ensure you’re getting a reasonable amount of the nutrients that your body needs. The result is that you still get to enjoy the dressings that are among your favorites while keeping those glucose levels within reason.

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