Photo: By _rockinfree on Flickr
It sounds counter-intuitive, but in order to maximise the nutritional benefits of salad, researchers say we should steer clear of fat-free dressings and sprinkle our vegetables with higher-calorie toppings. The new finding comes from a study at Purdue University which fed 29 people three salads covered with canola oil (monounsaturated fat), soybean oil (polyunsaturated fat), or butter (saturated fat) of 3, 8, or 20 grams of fat.
Researchers then tested the levels of antioxidants, known as carotenoids, in each subject.
It turns out these important nutrients from salad aren’t absorbed as easily when smothered with low-fat dressings, according to Beth Fontenot at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow:
Mario Ferruzzi, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of food science at Purdue, said that in order to get more from eating fruits and vegetables, they need to be paired correctly with fat-based dressings. While a salad with fat-free dressing is lower in calories, the absence of fat causes the loss of some of the benefits of eating vegetables.
According to the study, with the exception of canola oil, the amount of fat had more impact on the absorption of carotenoids than the type of fat (meaning 20 grams of polyunsaturated fat helped the body absorb more carotenoids than 3 grams of polyunsaturated fat).
Canola oil, or monounsaturated fat, was most effective at carotenoid absorption and provided the same benefits regardless of fat level.
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