Salad Dressings 101

Salad Dressing and Salad

Let’s talk about store-bought salad dressings. 

If you have a bottled salad dressing in your fridge, go check the label.

What oil does it use? Canola? Soybean? Some other seed oil? These oils are ubiquitous in store-bought (and restaurant) salad dressings, and they’re highly inflammatory. Along with these oils, they also contain stabilizers/preservatives, thickening agents, and often an unnecessary amount of added sugars. It’s one of the low-hanging fruits that we can tackle when switching over to healthier food options.

So, what should we do instead? We have two choices:

Salad Dressing Shopping Guide

What should we be looking for when we’re staring at the wall of salad dressing bottles at the store? First, be aware that only a couple may use quality oil, but look for the following:

Type of oil used

Most will contain canola or soybean. But quality ones will have avocado oil, MCT oil, or high-oleic sunflower oil. High oleic sunflower oil is newer to the market. It isn’t as health-promoting as extra virgin olive oil, but its favorable omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio makes it a more neutral oil; one that won’t do damage to our bodies.

Ingredients you don’t recognize

These are probably for shelf stabilization or used as thickening agents.

Amount of added sugar

Bottled dressings are often really sweet and unbeknownst to you, your “healthy” salad may actually be causing a blood sugar spike.

Misleading labels

  • Healthy-appearing dressings. For example, the brand “Annie’s” lures you in with their pretty labels and “organic” prominently displayed, but the fact is that they’re just made with cheap canola oil.
  • Vegan-labeled dressings. This usually indicates, for salad-dressings, that a vegetable oil is being used.

But what if you can’t find any? Quality bottled salad dressings are hard to come by in many grocery stores, so I do a lot of ordering from Thrive Market. This can be especially useful if you don’t have a lot of quality grocery stores in your area.

If you’ve never ordered from Thrive Market before, use this link to get 25% off your first order.

I have found many salad dressings from Thrive that fit my criteria – healthy and delicious. 

Here a a few of my favorites:

Thrive Market Ranch Dressing: This dressing uses MCT oil as the base instead of canola, and it’s delicious! (their Green Goddess is also really great)

Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard: An oldie but goodie, this dressing was perhaps the first non-vegetable oil based dressing on the market and I still love it. It uses avocado oil as its base and only real food ingredients.

Whole30 Elderberry Vinaigrette: I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s in my cart! This dressing uses high-oleic sunflower oil, which doesn’t have the amazing health properties as extra virgin olive oil, but it’s also not inflammatory as is regular sunflower oil. 

Another brand to check out that uses high-oleic sunflower oil is Tessamae’s, also found on Thrive Market.


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