All salad dressings contain fat. Some contain animal fat (many creamy dressings) and others contain vegetable oil (oil-and-vinegar) but all fat, be it butter, lard or extra-extra virgin olive oil, contains the exact same number of calories per unit. Therefore in terms of fat content, every salad dressing is equal. However, fat is not salad dressing’s only ingredient. Another major ingredient in most is sugar, and it is virtually always processed sugar.
You cannot reasonably eliminate all fat from your diet; your hair will fall out, your skin will slough off, and you will be at risk for every disease association with fat-soluble vitamin deficiency. Gulping down vitamin pills is useless if you’re not already taking in those same vitamins in your food; it is not by accident the pills are called “supplements” rather than “replacements.” However, processed sugar (white sugar, high fructose corn syrup) has absolutely no nutritional value at all, and can be deleted from your diet not only with no ill effects but with quite a few beneficial ones. (For example, the number one cause of elevated blood serum cholesterol is tobacco-smoking; number two is processed sugar. Animal fat is number three, and the first to have actual nutritional value.) Nature provides useful complex carbohydrates galore; you don’t need a Snickers bar (or a half-gallon of creamy salad dressing on one’s lettuce) to satisfy your body’s carb requirements.
When Adele Davisadvised taking in the equivalent of three tablespoons of salad dressing a day to ensure proper representation of fat in the diet, she was probably not thinking of creamy dressing, but it wouldn’t have mattered, weightwise (healthwise, it might have). She also added that most people already take in much more than that, but her imitators nonetheless began to advise dieters to drink three tablespoons of dressing a day (which is not what Davis said). That is the same kind of illogic that might be keeping you from eating eggs, for fear that the cholesterol in the yolks will clog your arteries; as it happens, egg yolks also contain lecithin, a substance that dissolves blood serum cholesterol. None of this, by the way, takes into account the difference between good and bad cholesterols; the former are absolutely necessary for processing the latter, for energy production (which means, among other things, that good cholesterol helps you LOSE weight), for regulation of insulin levels and for protection of liver function.
What has all of the above to do with salad dressing’s being fattening? We’ve already determined that fat is necessary, and that one salad dressing’s fat is no more fattening than another’s. It is the sugar content, not the fat content, that determines fatteningness, and that varies from dressing to dressing, so if you can read a label, you can see clearly 1. that some dressings are less fattening than others and 2. which ones they are – by the sugar content. If you want to lose weight healthily, and not just lose it regardless of what else you’re doing to your body, then also pay attention to what kind of fat the dressing contains; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats will do your body good, in moderation, and saturated fats and trans fat will do it harm. The healthier you are, the better you will feel, and the better you feel, the less likely you are to crave foods that cause you to gain unwanted weight, so the two issues are by no means unrelated. In addition, let me repeat that important word, MODERATION. You can overdose on just about anything if you try hard enough. A bottle of dressing should last through more than one salad if you’re not entertaining a crowd. Even a dressing full of animal fat, white sugar and a big “MAKE ME FAT” sign on it won’t be fattening if you only use a drop once in a while. (A good rule of thumb would be to use just enough dressing to moisten, not drown, your veggies.) It’s not the dressing that is fattening; it’s what you do with it.
Cholesterol and Health