So many salad dressings! Why?

The Walk Talk Nutrition RD team visits the salad dressing aisle.

After our visit to the cereal aisle, we felt it was only right that we reviewed another popular food product with multiple variations on choice.  Our first question, was where did bottled salad dressing come from?  And where did all the creamy varieties come from?  Kathy found a History of Salad Dressings, which informs us that Babylonians and Egyptians used oil and vinegar thousands of years ago.  Did they put it on lettuce?  Years later, European monarchs were known to be fond of salad, although they used ingredients like eggs, potatoes and sardines.  Commercially prepared dressings made their appearance at the beginning of the 20th century.  And the rest is history.

Now we have dozens of choices, although most are variations on a theme:

  • oil and vinegar or other vinaigrette styles
  • Ranch variations
  • other creamy/cheese flavors

Two key nutritional concerns:

  1. calories, which depend on the ingredients  and portion size
  2. sodium, which is not related to cost, style or brand

Kathy is a bottled dressing user, and is in favor of label reading to identify lower sodium options, with up to 230 mg sodium per 2 TB serving.  She also advocates for measuring or weighing how much dressing you use a couple of times to get a handle on portion sizes.  Donna is in favor is just using olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to toss salads.  After taping this episode, Kathy reports she is now a convert to the from-scratch olive oil and vinegar option.

All this talk of salad dressings brings up an even more basic question: why is there salad?  We’ll talk about that another time.

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