We can all agree that salads are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. With a variety of additions, you can make a meal out of a salad and get nutrition from just about all of the major food groups. But, that perfect meal can be destroyed if you choose the wrong salad dressing to go with it.

Many of us don't think about what we top our salad with. We are careful to use sprouts, shelled nuts, lettuce and spinach leaves but we then drown it all in our favorite salad dressing. That favorite dressing just added a whole heap of fat to your meal.

Read the labels. Most salad dressings are made with more than enough fat to go around. The average is about eleven grams per serving, but you can find some with more. Oh, and check your serving size. It is not one giant squeeze of the bottle, but more like a teaspoon of dressing. For thicker dressings this won't even cover one leaf of the lettuce.

You do have some choices when it comes to salad dressings. How about making one yourself? You will know what the ingredients are and can season it to taste without the added fat that comes in a bottle. Here are five examples.

#1 Home-made ranch salad dressing - Have you seen the Hidden Valley Ranch packets in your salad dressing aisles? Instead of grabbing the bottle, make some yourself. Instead of full-fat sour cream, go for the fat-free sour cream and add the seasoning mix. You can tweak the recipe to your tastes, adding more or less sour cream.

#2 Home-made vinaigrette - Vinaigrette salad dressing is a light alternative to Italian. It contains a vinegar base with various herbs and fruit added. Raspberry vinaigrette gives fruit salad a little kick and can cut the acidity of the fruit. With this, a little goes a long way for both coverage and taste.

#3 Oil and vinegar - You can choose which oil you want. Try an extra virgin olive oil and your favorite flavored vinegar. Throw in a few herbs to flavor it and shake it in your salad as you toss. Tossing helps each bite to get a taste.

#4 Spray salad dressings - These are sold by Kraft. Your favorite Caesar dressing, vinaigrette, balsamic vinegar and Italian are placed in pump bottles that offer taste without the calories. You can spritz as much as you like.

#5 Light dressings - There are some light varieties that do have taste and less than five calories per serving. If you like creamier dressings like Thousand Island, try the light version instead of the fat free for more of a consistency.

Are you a salad kind of person? Use these five salad dressing alternatives to get the taste that you want on your salad without too much added fat.

Russell (Rusty) Hart is the founder of the Health, Fitness & Sport Club, an online network of websites devoted to the promotion of health, fitness and wellness. The sites encompass a wide variety of health and fitness activities including general health matters, pilates, yoga, crossfit, treadmill training, running, kettlebell, swimming, and more. Also covered are Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Positive Thinking, the Law of Attraction and related topics. Those interested can visit the HF & S Club home site at http://www.healthfitnessandsport.com and [http://www.cookingforfitnessx.com]

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