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Is Caesar Salad Healthy? Nutrition and Calories
Nutrition

Is Caesar Salad Healthy? Nutrition and Calories

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on August 23, 2022
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4 min

An in-depth look at the nutritional value of one of the most popular salads.

is caesar salad healthy

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Caesar salad is probably one of the most popular salads in the world, thanks to its taste and the ease of making your own version at home.

When you are on a diet, the first thing you think to include in your routine are salads, but is Caesar salad convenient for losing weight?

Contrary to popular belief, salad is not synonymous with health. In the case of the protagonist of this article, note that the only vegetable in the recipe is lettuce and everything else is bread, cheese, and a lot of high-fat dressing.

At Health Reporter, we have deconstructed this dish to analyze it in-depth and reveal its nutritional value.

Is Ceasar Salad Healthy?

No, not all salads are healthy, and Caesar salad is no exception.

If you look at the ingredients in this recipe, the only green you’ll see is the romaine lettuce leaves. The rest of the ingredients in Caesar salad are high in fat, which adds a lot of calories to your diet. In addition, Caesar salad is low in protein.

For a salad to be really healthy, it should contain a higher proportion of vegetables because they are low in calories and high in fiber, which allows you to feel satiated and provides more nutrition.

How Are Ceasar Salads Made?

Caesar salad has multiple versions, but basically, it is made with romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, and a special creamy dressing.

The croutons are pieces of toasted bread in the shape of small cubes that can be added plain or pre-seasoned with herbs. Then everything is tossed together well to be covered with the dressing, which is the key to enhancing its flavor.

From this basic recipe originated in Tijuana, Mexico, by the Cardini family, different modifications have been made in which extra parmesan cheese is added to the sauce, or chicken strips are incorporated for a version with more protein.

What Ingredients Does Caesar Salad Contain?

The dressing is what adds a special touch to Caesar salads. The dressing is made from mayonnaise, which was originally made from scratch using eggs, olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice. It is then mixed with anchovies and crushed garlic, although some versions add Worcestershire sauce instead of anchovies.

The main ingredients of the traditional Caesar salad are very easy to find since its creator invented this salad using the ingredients he had on hand in his restaurant during a time of scarcity. The original recipe contains romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, pieces of toasted bread, and crispy bacon.

To assemble the salad, fresh lettuce leaves are mixed with pre-packaged croutons or homemade croutons made by cutting up pieces of toasted bread, and the cheese is added along with the bacon. Then everything is covered with the special dressing. Another simpler way to season this salad is to use commercially prepared dressings.

Nutrition Facts

We are going to look specifically at the nutritional value of the classic Caesar salad dressing since it is the most important ingredient in this recipe.

However, you should take into account that the parmesan cheese and bacon add more calories from fat and the croutons add carbohydrates.

Nutrition table (per 100g)

Calories/NutrientAmount
Calories (kcal)542 
Net Carbs (g)3.3 
Fiber (g)0.5 
Sugar (g)2.81 
Fats (Total)57.8 
Protein (g)2.17 
Cholesterol (mg)39 
Sodium (mg)1210
Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169055/nutrients

High in vitamins and minerals

The dressing of Caesar salads contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. However, the highest concentration of these nutrients is found in the most abundant ingredient in this salad, which is romaine lettuce.

Romaine lettuce is naturally low in sodium, provides a good amount of fiber, and contains vitamins and minerals that promote overall health.

Low in protein

With only 2 grams of protein in 100g of Caesar salad dressing (which is quite a lot of dressing for a salad), this recipe is pretty low in this macronutrient.

The rest of the salad ingredients add mostly carbohydrates from the croutons and fats from the bacon and cheese. This gives it very little nutritional balance as it does not provide the protein that is so important, especially when you are following a diet.

To improve the nutritional value of Caesar salad, you can add pieces of grilled chicken, which will significantly increase the amount of protein.

High in fats and calories

Unlike proteins and carbs, which supply 4 calories per gram, fat is the macronutrient that provides the most calories, delivering 9 calories per gram. This indicates that a meal with 10g of fat will provide 90 calories.

In the case of Caesar salad, just looking at the majority of the components will give you an indication of how much fat it contains – bacon, which is heavy in saturated fat, parmesan cheese, and a famous dressing prepared with olive oil and egg yolks.

It almost looks like the lettuce was purposely added to the recipe of Caesar salad to counteract all the fats and balance the nutrients to make Caesar salad healthier, but that goal was not very well achieved.

High in cholesterol

In addition to the 39g of cholesterol in 100g of Caesar salad dressing, you must add an additional 31.6g found in 28g of bacon, which is approximately the amount added to a bowl of this salad.

The recommended daily amount of cholesterol for healthy adults is no more than 300g. 70g of cholesterol per plate is an important number if you take into account that this is a salad that many people eat as a starter because it is “light.”

A Word From Our Nutritionist

If you prepare Caesar salad at home, you can achieve a much healthier version to lose weight without sacrificing your favorite foods because, without a doubt, this recipe is very appetizing.

The essential goal is to include additional protein, such as grilled chicken for a chicken Caesar salad or simply one cooked egg. Reduce the fat content by omitting the bacon or substituting a low sodium turkey alternative.

You can also increase the amount of fiber in the Caesar salad by using whole-grain bread to make your croutons.

A homemade Caesar dressing will always be the best alternative, as it allows you to use better quality ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and fresh herbs, and you avoid preservatives and flavor enhancers found in commercial Caesar salad dressings.

Conclusion

Caesar salad is not considered a healthy food due to its high saturated fat and low protein content.

To eat a healthy salad with higher nutritional value, it is necessary to add a wider variety of fresh vegetables besides lettuce, such as bell peppers, or leafy greens like arugula or kale.

Avoid commercial Caesar dressing by making your own homemade version of healthy dressing with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, garlic, and a little salt.

Chicken Caesar salad is a better choice if you are following a healthy diet as it contains more protein, making it a complete meal and not just an entrée.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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