Section: Barnabas Health Heart Center News

Healthy Summer Salads: Say “No” to Mayo


This summer as you join in on barbecues, picnics and other festivities, RWJBarnabas Health urges you to say “no” to mayo -based salads and sides and say “yes” to healthier options.

The bottom line: mayo is loaded with fat, calories and salt. Just one tablespoon provides about 94 calories; 10 grams of fat; 88 mg of salt and no protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron or calcium. Try these options instead.

  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt – Try using it in your tuna or egg salad, or even on sandwiches.
  • Hummus – Made from chick peas, it provides just a quarter of the calories of mayo. Try it with your sandwich or wrap. It also makes a great dip for fresh vegetables!
  • Mustard – It’s low calorie and has no fat; however honey mustard has double the calories of yellow or brown.
  • Pesto - Made from basil and olive oil, it’s rich in important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One tablespoon typically provides 45 calories, along with decent doses of vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Try it on sandwiches and in salads.

Go for the Greens

Leafy greens are loaded with nutrients and fiber and low in calories. Fiber is beneficial because it improves the health of your digestive system. And dark greens like kale and spinach are packed with vitamins A, C, E and K. This healthy combination of vitamins supports the immune system, keeps the cardiovascular system healthy and protects bones. If you’re a fan of light colored leafy greens like iceberg lettuce, they’re low on calories but offer very little nutritional value.

Salad Toppers

So, now that you have your base of dark leafy greens, it’s time for the toppings. Before you choose bacon bits and blue cheese, consider these healthier seasonal options.

Aim for a rainbow of colors on top of your salad.

  • Summer asparagus and broccoli promote eye health.
  • The antioxidant lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease, is found in red vegetables like tomatoes, radishes and bell peppers.
  • Yellow vegetables like squash and yellow peppers offer a healthy dose of immune-boosting vitamin C.
  • Sweet potatoes, carrots and other orange veggies provide beta carotene, which benefits the immune system, eyesight and skin.
  • Tomatoes offer outstanding antioxidant content, including, a rich concentration of lycopene.
  • If you’re in the mood for something sweeter, choose blueberries as they’re packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds.
  • Purple veggies like eggplant and purple onion fight the effects of aging.
  • White veggies like jicama, mushrooms, onion and cauliflower can protect against cancer and heart disease.


Now that you’ve created a healthy salad with healthy toppings, choose a healthy dressing, too. Instead of drenching your salad with blue cheese or Caesar dressing, instead drizzle a little olive oil, sunflower seeds, almonds or walnuts. Mash an avocado with a little olive oil for a creamier texture. Healthy fats like this help you absorb nutrients in the veggies, and provide vitamin E and selenium, which help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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