If you’re using fat-free dressing on your salad, you might be missing out on the health benefits of those nutrition-packed vegetables.
To get the most from your salad greens, use a dressing containing monosaturated fat such as olive oil or canola oil. That’s the message from researchers at Purdue University, who found that dressings made from these oils enhanced the absorption of the cartenoids in salad vegetables.
The study gave volunteers salads with saturated, monosaturated and polyunsaturated dressings and then ran blood tests to see how well the subjects absorbed carotenoids including lycopene, lutein, bata-carotene and zeaxanthin.
The result? Monosaturated fats won out in terms of nutrient absorption. And even better: these dressings resulted in the same amount of carotenoid absorption regardless of whether they contained 3 grams of fat or 20 grams.
In other words, if you use a fat-free dressing (or one containing the other fats) you cut calories, but also lose out on carotenoids.
If you’re dieting, it makes sense to gather the freshest, tastiest veggies and use dressing to enhance their natural flavors, rather than overwhelming the salad with dressing – no matter what type you use. Try just a small amount of a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (bonus: a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids) and a splash of balsamic vinegar … or even just the oil alone. Over time, you’ll lose the urge to drown your salads and come to prefer a minimally dressed salad.
And your body will thank you for helping it to better utilize the benefits of carotenoids, which have been shown to support brain, cardiovascular, skin and cellular health!
What is your favorite way to dress a salad?