What should consumers look out for when buying salad dressing?


There is a large range of salad dressing available on supermarket shelves to tempt even the most selective consumer. Ready-made dressings are of great benefit to busy people who need to prepare a meal in double quick time, but before you select a jar or bottle purely based on cost and convenience, it pays to take a closer look at the ingredients.

The principal ingredient in salad dressing is oil, which is fairly obvious when the role of the dressing is to not just flavour, but also bind salad ingredients or vegetables. Olive oil, sunflower, canola, soybean, bran and also peanut oil can be used, then, depending on the flavourings, eggs, salt, spices and herbs, vegetables, vinegar, honey or sugar, citrus juice as well as sherry and, in some cases, a number of additives could also appear on the ingredients list.



For those who are sensitive to particular foods, coming into contact with them could cause extreme allergic reactions and, in some cases, be fatal. Peanut allergies are one of the most severe food allergies in the world today, and could cause the affected individual to go into anaphylactic shock, which is life threatening. Therefore, checking that peanut oil is not present within the salad dressing before buying is a necessity.

Egg allergies are more common in young children, as they do tend to outgrow it when they get older. Baked and cooked eggs are not a problem, but loosely cooked eggs, such as those found in mayonnaise, could be.

Sulphides produced by the fermentation process when producing alcohol also could cause difficulties for a small number of people. If the dressing includes sherry, then this should be noted for those who suffer from this allergy. Unfortunately, fermenting wine into vinegar does not remove these sulphides either, but using acetic acid plus water to make your vinegar can overcome this issue (and keep it gluten free).


Sugar and salt content

Again, for those with diabetes or high blood pressure, any food item that contains “hidden” salt or sugar content can be a red flag, so read the labels carefully.


Monosodium glutamate

This processed additive, which can be found in over 40 varieties and under a number of different names, is also something to watch out for on the label of your salad dressing. Maltodoxin, MSG and hydrolysed vegetable protein are just some of the names it goes under, but in all of its different forms, it is considered to be a neurotoxin. MSG is also a chemo inducer of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.


Partially hydrogenised oil

This is used by manufacturers in a number of food products, including salad dressings, because of its ability to stabilise the flavour of foods and increase their shelf life. It is another ingredient that the consumer needs to take note of because it is the primary source of trans fat. Trans fat is a substance that the body finds hard to dissolve, unlike saturated fats that are twice as easy to dissolve.

Consumers who are trying to lower their cholesterol do need to watch out for this additive in their food products because it decreases the “good” type of cholesterol known as HDL cholesterol. Trans fat also boosts LDL or “bad” cholesterol so it is worth looking out for in ready-made salad dressings.

Choosing salad dressings that come from a reputable company that focuses on traditionally made food items, using local and natural sources of ingredients, and that offer you a comprehensive list of items contained in the dressings will help you and your family to maintain a healthy, balanced and tasty diet.

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