How many calories are there in a salad?
A salad can have as little as 100 calories or as much as 500+ calories. This largely depends on the ingredients that are used to prepare the salad as well as its portion size. Salads are often thought of as being very low in calories but this is not always the case.
Lets take a look at the different ingredients that can be used to prepare a salad.
Low calorie ingredients
Most fruits and vegetables are generally low in calories. This is because a large part of them is made up of water and water has 0 calories. As an example, a cup of lettuce (which is more than 95% water) has 5 calories and a medium sized tomato has 22 calories.
A salad that is made up entirely of fruits and vegetables will be low in calories. For example, a salad consisting of 2 cups of baby spinach, a medium sized carrot, a medium sized cucumber, a medium size tomato and a medium sized onion will have around 150 calories.
This is one advantage of eating salads that are made up entirely of vegetables – you can eat large amounts without having to worry about calories.
Medium and high calorie ingredients
The ingredients that fit into this category are those that are rich in protein and fat. This includes foods like eggs, avocados, chicken, fish, olives and nuts. A large boiled egg has 77 calories, whereas a cup of sliced avocado and cooked chicken breast have around 230 calories each.
Salads that are made up entirely of fruits and vegetables are not particularly filling so even though the ingredients in this category contain more calories, including them can be highly beneficial. Both protein and fat are very filling and therefore help to improve the satisfaction of a meal.
Besides the ingredients mentioned above, others such as croutons, olive oil, mayonnaise, cheese and vinegar are also used in some salad recipes. Their calorie numbers vary; a tablespoon of olive oil has 119 calories, a tablespoon of mayonnaise has 94 calories and half a cup of croutons has 61 calories.
Total calories in your salad
To calculate the total number of calories in your salad, you simply need to add up the calories obtained from the different ingredients. You can either do this using an app such as myfitnesspal or write down the ingredients on a piece of paper and then refer to a website such as nutritiondata.self.com for nutritional information.
Most recipe websites on the web provide also provide information on the number of calories, protein, fat and carbs per serving.
Below are the recipes for some popular types of salad and how many calories they contain per serving.
Greek salad: 1 head of romaine lettuce, 1 red onion, 1 can of pitted black olives, 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 2 large tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 cup of feta cheese, 6 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 lemon, ground black pepper to taste – 265 calories per serving
Black bean and corn salad: 1/3 cup of fresh lime juice, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 2 cans of black beans, 1 1/2 cups of corn kernels, 1 avocado, 1 red bell pepper, 2 tomatoes, 6 green onions, 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro – 391 calories per serving
Potato salad: 5 potatoes, 3 eggs, 1 cup of celery, 1/2 cup of chopped onion, 1/2 cup of sweet pickle relish, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt, 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, ground black pepper to taste – 206 calories per serving
BBQ chicken salad: 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, 4 celery stalks, 1 large red bell pepper, 1/2 red onion, 1 can of sweet corn, 1/4 cup of barbeque sauce, 2 tablespoons of fat free mayonnaise – 168 calories per serving
Egg salad: 8 eggs, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of prepared yellow mustard, 1/4 cup of green onion, 1/4 teaspoon of paprika, salt and pepper to taste – 344 calories per serving
Caesar salad: 6 cloves of garlic, 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, 5 anchovy fillets, 6 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt to taste, ground black pepper to taste, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 4 cups of cubed bread, 1 head of romaine lettuce – 384 calories per serving
The health benefits of eating salads
People often associate salads with eating healthy and this is correct for the most part. The healthiest salads will be those that have a large amount of vegetables in them and limited amounts of dressings such as mayonnaise.
Vegetables are some of the richest sources of numerous vitamins and minerals. A cup of spinach for example provides you with all of your daily requirement of vitamin K and a medium sized carrot provides you with all of your daily requirement of vitamin A. Eating a variety of vegetables can help prevent deficiencies in a number of crucial nutrients.
The antioxidants found in vegetables reduce free radical damage, which in turn lowers the risk of a large number of diseases.
Salads also contain decent amounts of dietary fiber. When you eat dietary fiber, it swells up and forms bulk in your stomach; this assists with digestive health and can also help to fill you up, which is beneficial if you are trying to lose weight.
Aim to eat a salad that has a variety of vegetables in it at least 3 or 4 times a week, more if possible. To reap the health benefits that salad has to offer, it is a good idea to use natural ingredients whenever possible. This means you should limit the addition of ingredients that contain processed sugar and artificial fat.
The number of calories in a salad largely depends on the ingredients that are used to prepare it. On average, you can expect a salad to have 200 – 400 calories per serving.