Ruining Your Healthy Salad With These Ingredients? Here’s All You Need to Know About Salad Dressings

Hold the dressing-all of these ingredients may be hiding in your go-to salad dressing.

By: Rebecca Jacobs

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of grabbing the ranch dressing and mindlessly dousing your healthy green salad with enough to coat just about every green lettuce leaf? Yup, let’s face it, we have all been there, done that. 

And, while there’s absolutely zero judgement on how much salad dressing you currently drizzle on your salad, we’re breaking down some ways that you can still reap all the healthy goodness of that green goddess bowl you enjoy for lunch. 

Hint! It has to do with avoiding the salad dressings that are chock full of added sugar and artificial ingredients. 

5 Salad Dressing Ingredients to Steer Clear Of

So, we totally get it-salad dressing isn’t necessarily something you would think of as an unhealthy food choice, right? I mean, it’s meant to be enjoyed with a healthy meal (aka your favorite salad.) Unfortunately, though, salad dressings are often loaded with added sugar, damaged fats and oils (yuck) and even artificial ingredients. 

But fear not, you can still enjoy your favorite caesar salad. You’ll just want to be an ingredient detective when it comes to checking the nutritional label on the bottle. 

Here are four of some of the most unhealthy ingredients found in many store-bought dressings that you will want to not walk, but run away from.

#1 Damaged & Processed Oils

Be sure to stay away from salad dressing made with canola, soybean, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, and rice bran oil. Why? Because they are all highly inflammatory and many of them are genetically modified.

#2 High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Yikes, HFCS in salad dressing? Yup, unfortunately, this happens to be a commonly added sweetener which is incredibly damaging to overall health. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and inflammation. Oh, and did we mention just how bad inflammation is? Inflammation is at the root of nearly all disease, so stay as far away from HFCS as you can.

#3 Trans Fats

While we’re on the topic of inflammation, let’s talk trans fats. These are damaged fats that are unfortunately commonly found in processed foods, and yes, even some salad dressing. They have been linked to lowering healthy (HDL) cholesterol and even increasing the risk of cardiovascular health issues. But, the nutritional label may not directly state “trans fats.” Instead, it may say hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, so just be on the lookout for any of these terms and steer clear of any salad dressing that contains it.

#4 MSG

Last, but not least is MSG (aka an extremely toxic food additive.) MSG is a flavor enhancer and is often used in salad dressing and other condiments. The scary thing about it is that it’s been linked to migraines, and even learning difficulties in children. But here’s another ingredient you will have to put your ingredient detective hat on for. It can be hidden and labeled as things like natural flavoring, soy protein, or even yeast extract.

Feeling Adventurous? Make Your Own

If you enjoy spending a little time meal prepping each week, why not add in a homemade salad dressing recipe to the mix? You can easily make an entire batch to last you all week with just a handful of ingredients. Plus, we promise homemade always tastes better drizzled over your favorite salad recipe and is of course, so much better for you. 

Try using this recipe as a base, and add your favorite herbs and spices! Some great options include garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano.

Base Homemade Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe 


  1. ⅓ cup olive oil 
  2. ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar 
  3. 1 Tbsp. raw honey 
  4. Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt & pepper


Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl in addition to your favorite herbs, spices, and superfoods, and whisk well. 

Store in a mason-style glass jar in the fridge, and give it a good shake right before you are ready to use. 

Drizzle over your favorite salad recipe! 

The Bottom Line

If you are a big salad lover, it may be time to take a second look at the dressing you are using to give those healthy salads that added flavor boost. The bottom line is to stay away from any ingredients you can’t pronounce, or really any salad dressing that contains what seems like an endless list of ingredients. And, stay far away from things like damaged oils, HFCS, trans fats, and MSG. 

If you can’t find a dressing you love that doesn’t contain all of these yucky ingredients, roll up your sleeves and get creative in the kitchen. Making your own dressing is a sure fire way to make sure you aren’t consuming inflammatory and toxic ingredients. You control what you put into your salad dressing recipe, and ultimately, not only will it be healthier, it will taste so much better too.