What Salad Dressings Can a Pregnant Woman Have?

House Salad
A green salad with a creamy salad dressing. (Image: SageElyse/iStock/Getty Images)

Pregnancy can be a confusing time because you must rethink all of your old habits. From your workout routine to your diet, everything is changing. You can keep enjoying that healthy salad for lunch or with your dinner, but you may have to change some of your choices for salad dressings.

Low-Fat Dressings

When you are pregnant, each calorie should contain nutritional value that will help you and your baby. As a result, some nutritional experts, such as Kimberly A. Tessmer, R.D., L.D., author of "The Everything Pregnancy Nutrition Book," recommend that you skip the high-fat dressings that can heap on the calories and opt for a low-fat dressing instead. Most of your favorite dressings are available in low-fat options, as well. For example, ranch, French, Italian all have low-fat versions.

Full-Fat Dressings

If you can't stomach the low-fat dressing options, go easy on the full-fat dressings, states Tessmer. Your favorite dressing probably has more fat than you think it does. For example, 2 tbsp. of full-fat ranch dressing has 140 calories and 14 g of fat. This is fine if you can stick to 2 tbsp. of dressing and reduce the fat on your salad in other ways, such as by omitting the cheese or croutons. If you find yourself pouring on the dressing, you might need to consider switching to a low-fat dressing.

Dressings to Avoid

Pregnant women should avoid dressings with soft cheeses such as feta of blue cheese, or unpasteurized cheeses. These cheeses do not go through the same processing to kill harmful bacteria, such as listeria, that hard cheeses like cheddar must undergo. Also avoid any dressings that contain raw egg, such as some Caesar dressings, because of the risk of salmonella. When in doubt, read the labels or ask the server in the restaurant what is in the dressing before you eat it. Some types of food-borne bacteria, such as salmonella, can cross the placenta and harm your baby.

Alternatives to Dressing

You can omit the salad dressing all together, if you find that less confusing. For example, a spritz of lemon juice or lime juice can add flavor as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C without adding calories to your salad. A tablespoon of balsamic vinegar can also add a big dose of healthy flavor to your salad. Alternately, purchase a grinder of dried herbs meant for salads at your local grocery store. These herbs and spices contain, among other things, dried onion, celery salt and black pepper.

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