In general, salads are healthy meal options; also, chicken and tuna are valid nutritional powerhouses. Still, when you put the two together, you don't always get a healthy meal.
Chicken salad and tuna salad are two popular meals. Looking at the name alone implies a healthy, nutritious meal, but when you examine the ingredients, things get complicated.
Most chicken or tuna salad recipes call for Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise and salt. Neither ingredient is healthy, and both can detract from the benefits of the protein. Therefore, you need to examine the ingredients to determine if chicken or tuna salad is a better dietary choice.
Is Tuna or Chicken a Healthier Protein?
Chicken and tuna are lean proteins and low in calories. Tuna contains omega-3 fatty acids and has less mercury than other fish.
Cost can be an issue when considering the proteins. Fresh tuna is expensive, whereas fresh chicken is among the most affordable meats. While canned tuna is less costly, you need to be careful about how it is packaged. Canned tuna can have higher sodium and fat content than fresh tuna, depending on whether it is packed in oil or water.
Tuna and chicken also have distinctive flavor profiles. Being a fish, some people may not find tuna appealing. Chicken has a bland natural flavor, which doesn't detract from the other ingredients.
Ultimately, both chicken and tuna are healthy proteins. Tuna may pack a little more bang for the bite, but that is mainly due to the fatty acids.
Is Chicken Salad or Tuna Salad Healthier?
The list of ingredients is the primary determiner of whether a chicken or tuna salad is healthy. Using a recipe that focuses on high-fat and overly processed ingredients will not result in a healthy meal. Unfortunately, many recipes call for the addition of unhealthy ingredients.
You can make chicken or tuna salad healthier. A common ingredient in the salad, which is more commonly used as a sandwich spread, is mayonnaise. By swapping mayonnaise for plain yogurt, you can reduce some of the calories and fats, resulting in a healthier recipe.
You can also reduce calories by watching what kind of dressing or flavorings a recipe uses. Use a vinaigrette or another low-calorie and low-sodium option.
Which "Salad" Should You Eat?
Both salad options can tip the scales at 400 calories per serving, and that is before introducing the bread. While that calorie count seems high, consider the number of vegetables, fruit, nuts, etc., included. Still, if you aren't careful, the salads may contain minimally nutritious and highly-processed ingredients.
Which salad you should eat depends on your nutritional goals. It also depends on the recipe used.
Tuna and chicken are healthy proteins, especially when bought fresh. Fresh tuna may present cost and accessibility barriers, making chicken a preferable choice. Still, both proteins create distinct flavor profiles, meaning which is better is more a matter of preference.
Tuna and chicken salad can represent healthy meal options if you use the right recipe. A better choice might be to have a side salad with one of the proteins as an entree.