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Keep the Fat in Your Salad Dressing for Optimal Nutrient Absorption

Often when someone is trying to eat a healthier diet, they use fat-free dressing on their salads. While this is a good move for cutting calories, a recent study suggests that you may also be cutting important antioxidants called carotenoids out as well. The type of fat included in your salad dressing is essential for maximum absorption.

The research was conducted at Purdue University and published in the June 2012 issue of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

Participants in the study included 29 people who consumed salads dressed with either butter as a saturated fat dressing, canola oil as a monounsaturated fat dressing or corn oil as a polyunsaturated fat dressing. The salads were identical except for the type of dressing and the amount used, which was either 3 grams, 8 grams or 20 grams.

The researchers tested the participants’ blood for absorption of fat-soluble vitamin compounds. They found that 20 grams of each type of dressing resulted in the highest carotenoid absorption. Additionally, the monounsaturated fat dressing enhanced absorption better than the saturated and polyunsaturated dressings.

Carotenoids are the phytochemicals that provide the bright red, orange or yellow coloration to many fruit and vegetables. They serve as antioxidants and can be a good source of vitamin A. They have been shown in previous research to protect against cardiovascular disease, some cancers and macular eye disease. Their beneficial actions are optimal when a variety of carotenoids are consumed together.

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