18 Salad Bar Survival Tips

Mushrooms
Not poisonous, hallucinogenic, or nutritious.

Creamy salads
A.k.a. the white death. If you must have some slaw or, worse, macaroni salad (3/4 cup = 26 grams of fat!), at least place it over raw vegetables. The mayo will double as salad dressing.

Radishes
No matter how you slice 'em, these are roots. What's worse, they're roots without a nutritional leg to stand on. You'd need to eat half a cup to take in a gram (g) of fiber, which isn't enough to keep even a rabbit regular.

Alfalfa sprouts
Don't bother with these little health-food frauds. Half a cup provides only traces of nutrients. But they are virtually calorie-free, so if you actually like their dank flavor, knock yourself out.

Carrots
Shredding gives raw carrots a whole new quality: They become edible. Mix, don't top, your salad with a quarter cup of them, and you'll be eating nearly a whole day's worth of beta-carotene.

Cauliflower
Broccoli's bleached cousin has only a fraction of the vitamin C and beta-carotene. You're better off doubling up on broccoli and skipping this pale imitator.

Sunflower seeds
A few spoonfuls have potassium and magnesium to lower blood pressure, plus folate to help prevent heart disease.

Black olives
While these little fat bombs won't hurt your heart, they won't help it much either. You'd need to eat 10 to get just 3 g of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat.

Chickpeas
Despite the name, this isn't something you'd find in Penthouse. Half a cup has 6 g of protein, 5 g of fiber, and some B vitamins.

Hard-boiled eggs
One has 6 g of protein and some lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that may cut your risk of age-related vision loss.

Cherry tomatoes
Ounce for ounce, these little suckers have as much prostate-protecting lycopene as their big brothers.

Cucumbers
Low in nutrients, fiber, and taste. Maybe that's why people drown 'em in vinegar and call them pickles.

Iceberg lettuce, mesclun salad greens
Nutrient-wise, iceberg lettuce helps your diet as much as real icebergs helped the Titanic. But mesclun greens contain folate, to fight heart disease, and fiber, to spit shine your colon walls.

Cottage cheese
The best cheese choice on the bar. Half a cup of the full-fat stuff has only 108 calories and 5 g of fat, and gives you 13 g of protein.

Broccoli
Six florets give you a day's worth of vitamin C and 20 percent of your beta-carotene. Bonus: Broccoli is rich in a number of polysyllabic compounds that seem to have anticancer properties. Eat all you can stand.

Shredded Cheddar cheese
One half cup of shredded Cheddar has 19 g of fat—about what you'd get in a fast-food taco. Try to limit yourself to a tablespoon.

Mysterious extras (bacon bits, croutons, Chinese noodles)
They're salty, they're crunchy, they're more like pretzels than vegetables. Of the three, the croutons are best. Ten croutons add up to about 50 calories and 2 g of fat. Chinese noodles tend to be greasier. And bacon bits? Well, they're bacon, and we all know how healthy that is.

Dressing
Low-fat dressing isn't low-cal, so go easy on it. A better bet? Canola oil and red wine vinegar. The oil contains omega-3 fatty acids to reduce your heart-disease risk. The vinegar adds flavonoids to keep your blood flowing smoothly.

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