Is a Hamburger Healthier than your Salad?

You want to get in shape and lose pounds and you have been ordering salads when you go out for a meal, but don’t see results. You might as well have ordered a huge hamburger and fries if you chose the Quesadilla Explosion Salad at Chili’s that packs 1,360 calories and 88 grams of fat. A Big Mac from McDonalds has 540 calories and 28 grams of fat…hmmm, hamburger please!

Do you know that what you put on your salad at a salad bar can change your salad from being a healthy meal to being junk food?

Dried cranberries seem like a healthy and tasty choice to top your salad with, but surprisingly, just a third of a cup of them contains 123 calories. That’s a lot of sugar without much of a health benefit.

One cup of fresh grapes has 104 calories, but one cup of raisins packs 434 calories!

Fresh fruit is a better choice. It has more volume and water, which will keep you feeling full and keep you from reaching for a candy bar.

The TOP WORST and BEST things to add to your salad:


  • Wontons, 130 calories
  • Tortilla strips, 90 calories
  • Fried chicken, 570 calories
  • Croutons, 100 calories
  • Dried fruits, 269 calories
  • Bacon, 293 calories
  • Starchy veggies (such as corn niblets) 147 calories
  • Glazed nuts, 150 calories
  • Creamy salad dressing, 130 to 140 calories in fat in 2 tablespoons


  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Bell pepper
  • Dry roasted nuts – should be little added to your salad
  • Vinaigrettes such as balsamic vinegar and olive oil

When you choose your salad dressing, read the label and do your homework. Not all are alike, and some that look innocent may be deadly!

Salad Dressings to Avoid

Ken’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing has 190 calories and 20 grams of fat in just 2 tablespoons!

Walden Farms Sugar-Free Thousand Island Dressing. Although the label says it has 0 calories and that it is fat-free, don’t be fooled. The California Proposition 65 listed this item as unsafe. A chemical that is known to cause cancer and birth defects has been linked to this dressing.

Kraft Catalina Dressing contains food dyes that researchers in California have found to cause cancer. It also is high in sodium and has 90 calories per serving.

Healthy Salad Dressings

Hidden Valley Light Ranch. If you must have a creamy salad dressing, then this is a good option with just 80 calories.

Annie’s Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette. This one is tasty and has just 40 calories.

Annie’s Natural Balsamic Vinaigrette. Not all balsamic vinaigrette is the same. Some have huge amounts of sugar. This one is just 50 calories per serving and lots of flavor.

Make your salad healthier by ditching iceberg lettuce and instead using dark green lettuce and kale. The rule of thumb is that the darker the lettuce, the healthier it is for you. This will pack a healthy punch of nutrients, such as lutein and folic acid.

If you’re still tempted by that juicy hamburger put it down. A McDonald’s Big Mac has 540 calories and 85mg of cholesterol
and 960mg sodium. Burger King’s Whopper packs 760 calories, 87mg cholesterol and 1410 sodium, but don’t forget the saturated fat in burgers that you will not find in a salad. If you must have a hamburger, order a kid size burger without cheese and add a salad.

A salad is still your best option. Just make sure you cut out creamy dressings and watch out for sugary, dry fruit toppings and…cheese.