You think you’re doing yourself a favor by enjoying a salad loaded with leafy greens and veggies. But more often than not, store-bought or restaurant dressings turn your nutritious salad into a health bomb.
And that goes for dressings labeled non fat, reduced calorie, fat free, or sugar free.
Unfortunately, most salad dressings you find at the grocery store or on the restaurant menu are filled with refined industrial oils, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Today we’re highlighting a healthy fat you can use to make easy, delicious, thyroid-friendly salad dressings. As long as you know what to buy, and how to use it. (I hope that by now you’ve welcomed healthy fats to the table. If not, we need to talk!)
Rave Reviews for Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil gets rave reviews for its health benefits. Studies show that the antioxidants, polyphenols, alpha-linolenic acid, and Vitamin E in EEVO make it anti-inflammatory and protect you from heart disease and cancer. And like most healthy sources of fat, extra virgin olive oil supports brain health, improves mood, reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes, and balances hormones.
It can even help you lose weight by curbing cravings, and keeping you satisfied longer!
Plus, when you get right down to it, fat just makes food taste better.
Buyer Beware When it Comes to Olive Oil
Confused by the different varieties of olive oil? Generally, buy extra virgin olive oil (EEVO) over olive oil or light olive oil. It’s cold-pressed, which means there’s no heat or chemicals involved in the production process.
Better flavor, too.
Here’s the fine print: make sure you’re buying a high-quality EEVO. Like most things, you get what you pay for.
The television news show, 60 Minutes, aired an exposé on EEVO fraud, estimating that 75-80 percent of oil sold in the U.S. is fake! Apparently, we can blame the Mafia.
The most common fraud is mixing Italian EEVO with lower quality olive oils. From 60 Minutes Overtime:
“…a bottle labeled ‘extra virgin olive oil’ may not be olive oil at all, just a seed oil like sunflower made to look and smell like olive oil with a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene.”
So what oils should you buy? 60 Minutes gave the thumbs up to two brands — Ionnatta Oil and Nicolo Clemenza.
Smokepoint and Why it’s Important
Pay attention to quality. But also consider the smokepoint of the oil you use.
Every oil has a certain temperature called a ‘smokepoint.’ When you heat an oil enough, it begins to smoke and break down.
As the oil degrades, it becomes more oxidized. Many health experts believe that the oxidation damages cells in your body. And, it may increase the risk for cancer.
Extra virgin olive oil has a smokepoint of 320 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why I recommend you enjoy EEVO cold rather than heating it for other recipes. I’ve included recipes for three healthy, thyroid-friendly salad dressings below.
Oils on the Off-Limits List
You’d think that vegetable oils would be healthy because they’re made from vegetables, right? Wrong.
These oils rank as some of the most chemically altered and harmful foods in our diets. Yet, they’re promoted as healthy.
Steer clear of the following oils: canola, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and vegetable oil. And stay away from solids like: margarine, shortening and any fake butter or vegetable oil products. They’re usually made from genetically modified crops heavily treated with pesticides.
Processed Oils and Oxidation
Factories can’t extract vegetable oils just by pressing or separating them naturally. They must chemically remove them using petroleum solvent, also known as paint thinner! They’re then deodorized and altered further.
When producing shortening or margarine, vegetable oils undergo an additional process called ‘hydrogenation.’ This makes them solid at cold temperatures. The hydrogenation process also creates those bad-for-you trans fats we should avoid at all costs.
Next time you visit the grocery store, check the ingredient labels on just about any processed food. The majority will contain some kind of vegetable or seed oil. Open your pantry and fridge and you’re likely to find vegetable oils hiding there as well. Unless, of course, you are an uber clean eater.
Our body needs fat to rebuild cells and produce hormones, but it’s also forced to use the building blocks we give it. When we consume a high concentration of “bad” fats, our bodies must incorporate these fats into our cells during repair and creation.
Vegetable and seed oils are highly unstable and oxidize easily in the body. That’s if they haven’t already oxidized during processing or by light exposure on grocery store shelves. These oxidized fats cause inflammation and mutation in cells.
Lopsided Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio
You’ve likely heard about the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. But did you know that it’s more about the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids?
Vegetable oils have a high concentration of Omega-6, which easily oxidizes. Omega-3 reduces inflammation and protects against cancer. But unbalanced levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats do the opposite.
Thyroid-Friendly Salad Dressing Recipes!
High in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats, extra virgin olive oil is a great oil for salad dressings and cold recipes.
Thank you Wellness Mama for the following three great salad dressing recipes. There are more on her site that include honey as an ingredient if you aren’t eschewing sugar.
Need a main dish to serve with your salad? Here’s another recipe you might want to try that features a healthy fat — Grass-Fed Beef & Cabbage.
Creamy Homemade Caesar Dressing
- one egg yolk at room temperature (very important it is not cold!)
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard or mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (unless you’re sensitive to dairy)
- sea salt, freshly ground pepper and spices to taste
Whisk egg yolk with whisk or blender on low speed.
Once creamy, add vinegar and other ingredients and blend until creamy.
Slowly add oil, stirring constantly until incorporated.
If it doesn’t incorporate well, your egg might still have been too cold!
Traditional Caesar salad ingredients include romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, croutons, and an anchovy. When I was growing up, my mom used a wooden bowl passed down from my great grandma to make homemade dressing. She also used anchovy paste. I was never an anchovy fan, but the flavor that the paste lended to the dressing was amazing. Use just a little squirt and save the rest for later.
Zesty Italian Dressing
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 small squirt of dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1-2 cloves finely minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp each of thyme, basil and oregano
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pull all ingredients in small jar and shake vigorously.
Throw together your favorite greens and veggies for an amazing salad.
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- small squirt dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp each of oregano and marjoram
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Put all ingredients in small jar with lid and shake until well mixed.
Drizzle on a classic greek salad of lettuce, feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes and cucumbers.
*Lisa the Health Coach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn fees (at no cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.