Salads gone rogue: Fat free means less nutrients

A little fat when eating greens may actually be a good thing.

WASHINGTON, DC, September 28, 2012 — A U.S. Department of Agriculture funded study out of the University of Purdue suggests that a little fat, when eating greens, may actually be a good thing.

The heart-healthy, vegetable laden and dressing free choice of millions of Americans worried about their weight may be a self-defeating strategy for consuming salads.  In fact, the Purdue study, which was published in the journal of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, demonstrates that the body needs a little fat and the right proportion of salad dressing, in order to effectively process and digest important nutrients and vitamins.

Mario Ferruzzi, an associate professor at Purdue and the study’s lead author explains, “If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings,” adding, “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 researchers measured the bloods absorption of specific fat-soluble nutrients such as beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene and others. The study 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.” The health benefits of the blood’s absorption of these nutrients is important, as they have been found to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other ailments of consequence.

Prof. Ferruzzi observed, “Even at the lower fat level, you can absorb a significant amount of carotenoids with monounsaturated fat-rich canola oil.”

“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,” Ferruzzi said.

The study’s findings are not a license or a reason to go overboard with salad dressing. But it’s an important indicator that finding a balance and providing your digestive system with the right elements necessary to absorb nutrients and vitamins is an important aspect to staying healthy.

In the end, the facts on fat – matter.


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Timothy W. Coleman

Timothy W. Coleman is a writer, analyst, and a technophile. He primarily focuses on international affairs, security, and technology matters, but Tim has a keen interest in history, politics and archeology, having visited more than 20 Mayan ruins in Central America alone.

Tim started off on Capitol Hill, worked on a successful US Senate campaign, and subsequently joined a full-­‐service, technology marketing communications firm. He has co-­‐founded two technology startup firms, is a contributing editor at intelNews.org and he is an intelligence analyst at the Langley Intelligence Group Network (LIGNET.com) where he specializes in aerospace, naval, and cyber security analysis.

Coleman completed his BA from Georgetown University, an MBA in Finance from Barry University, a Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University at NASA Ames, and a Master’s of Public and International Affairs with a major in Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

Coleman volunteers and serves as a member of the board of directors at the Lint Center for National Security Studies. 

 

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