The vegetables in salads are chock-full of important vitamins and nutrients, but you won't get much of their benefits if you’re not pairing them with the right type and amount of salad dressing, a Purdue University study shows.
And not surprisingly researchers have found out that olive oil works the magic when it comes to boosting health benefits and control calories.
In a human trial, researches fed individuals salads topped with different dressing (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat based) and subsequently tested their bloods to assess how much their bodies had absorbed the compounds contained in the veggies (such as lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin among others). Such compounds (called carotenoids) are some of the notorious antioxidants so important for our overall health.
The study, published online in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, found that monounsaturated fat-rich dressings required the least amount of fat to get the most carotenoid absorption, while saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat dressings required higher amounts of fat to get the same benefit.
"If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings," said Mario Ferruzzi, the study's lead author and a Purdue associate professor of food science. "If you have a salad with a fat-free dressing, there is a reduction in calories, but you lose some of the benefits of the vegetables."
The study’s findings showed that monounsaturated fat-rich dressing, such as olive oil or canola oil, promoted the equivalent carotenoid absorption at 3 grams of fat as they did at 20 grams of fat. Meaning that this lipid source gets optimum results even at very low doses.
"Even at the lower fat level, you can absorb a significant amount of carotenoids with monounsaturated fat-rich canola oil," Ferruzzi said. "Overall, pairing with fat matters. You can absorb significant amounts of carotenoids with saturated or polyunsaturated fats at low levels, but you would see more carotenoid absorption as you increase the amounts of those fats on a salad."
Although further research might be necessary on this topic, the findings of this study are quite clear in determining that monounsaturated fat based dressings should be your to-go choice when having a salad.
And if you’re calorie conscious instead of choosing those “mysterious” fat-free ones get just one tablespoon of olive oil, some vinegar and salt: all in all the best choice you can make for your health!
The Iron You