Want a healthier meal and more veggies? Go for salad. Seems simple enough, but salad bars are so elaborate these days, there are more hidden health dangers than you might think when you’re creating your own plate of goodness.

Here’s a go-to guide to make sure your healthy salad is really the healthiest it can be.

Lettuce Make The Right Choice

  • Choose: Romaine, one of the healthiest of the leafy greens
  • Skip: Iceberg, which has virtually no calories and no redeeming nutritional value

Color Your Plate: Veggies

  • Load Up: Broccoli (supplements fiber and Vitamin D plus fights cholesterol), carrots (support vision), tomatoes (battle cancer)
  • Moderate: Corn, because a half a cup has 88 calories, though in small quantities contains beneficial fiber and vitamin c

Pick Powerful Protein

  • Best: Tofu, grilled chicken, hard boiled egg, black beans, and chickpeas – clean proteins without the fat and added salt
  • Worst: Ham (high in sodium), and pre-made tuna, egg, and chicken salad (usually made with large amounts of high-calorie mayonnaise)

Add Fruitful Health

  • Pile on: Any fresh berries – blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries (all are tops in their class as cancer-fighters)
  • Pass on: Anything that looks like canned fruit (usually full of preservatives and processed sugars)

Dress Lightly and Layer

  • Best: Olive oil (45 calories per tablespoon but also packed with good fat to lower cholesterol and help your heart) plus your favorite vinegar, like apple cider vinegar (only three calories per tablespoon)
  • Worst: Creamy dressings, such as ranch and bleu cheese (75 calories per tablespoon) and even balsamic vinaigrette or non-creamy Italian (about 45 calories per tablespoon)

Don’t Get Too Cheesy

  • Best: In small quantities pick big flavor cheeses with minimal calories, additives, or saturated fat, such as parmesan, cottage, swiss, or feta
  • Worst: Processed cheese that look artificially colored, or say “low sodium” (likely to have processed additives to supplement flavor)

Be Wary of Sneaky Health Spoilers

  • Bacon bits: High sodium, processed, caloric, no nutritional value
  • Croutons: High sodium, high calorie; if they have whole-wheat or whole-grain croutons, a sprinkle is not so bad
  • Olives: Fairly high sodium across the board, with green olives as the lowest in calories and sodium
  • Nuts and Seeds: Moderate high-calorie almonds and walnuts (a small amount is fine but don’t go too nuts, so to speak); add crunch with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds (full antioxidant benefits and healthy fats)

What seems yummy at the time might not be great for your health in the long run, so make a few smarter choices each time you hit the salad bar. You’ll still be satisfied, and you won’t sacrifice taste.