"I'll just have the salad" is a popular refrain for millions of dieters nationwide. Salads, with their bounty of fresh vegetables, are the standard-bearers for healthy food, the go-to when someone doesn't just want to eat healthy, but wants everybody to know it, too. But some salads are far unhealthier than others, and some are even among the unhealthiest items on the menu.
The word "salad" has plenty of definitions, and obviously mayo-loaded dishes like tuna salad, egg salad, and potato salad are certainly not good for you. That's why for today's purposes, we're talking about what most people think of when they think about salads: a bowl or plate filled with lettuce and a bunch of other stuff.
It's common knowledge by this point that salad dressings are among the unhealthiest foods you can eat. They're loaded with oil (and oftentimes mayo and sugar as well), and most people use way too much of them. Even the low-fat "diet" dressings often have a ton of additives and sugar in order to make them resemble their full-fat counterparts. Any salad can go from healthy to unhealthy with the addition of a mound of ranch dressing; we recommend just using vinegar and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
There are plenty of classic salads that have been on menus for decades that folks are still ordering thinking that they're healthy, when in reality they're anything but. We're not talking about a house salad with blue cheese dressing here; we're talking about menu mainstays with their own origins, names, and conventional methods of preparation.
While we're talking about specific types of salad, no matter where or by whom they're made, in order to rank the nine unhealthiest examples, we found chain restaurants that have included them on their menus and therefore posted calorie counts online. We also used the grilled chicken option when possible, because anything fried would obviously be a deal-breaker. Just because these salads are from chains, doesn't mean that they contain any more calories than what you'll find at a non-chain restaurant, so beware: these salads pack a caloric wallop, no matter where you order them.
-Dan Myers, The Daily Meal