Video: Fewer Nutrients Absorbed When Using Lowfat Dressing

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist Sauces and Dressings, VideosComments: 27

There is nothing quite as refreshing and delicious as a beautiful bowl of organic salad.  Perhaps the vegetables are freshly picked from your own garden or sourced from a CSA or farmer’s market.

While there is no doubt that salads, particularly organic, are a healthy complement to just about any meal, it may surprise you to learn that you won’t be absorbing many of the vitamins and minerals unless you top it with a full fat salad dressing.

In a recent Purdue University study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 20 participants were fed salads topped with dressings consisting of either saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated fats.  Their blood was then tested for absorption of fat soluble carotenoids such as lycopene, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin.

Each participant’s salad was topped with a dressing that contained either 3 grams, 8 grams or 20 grams of fat.  Mario Ferruzzi, the lead author of the study and a Purdue associate professor of food science, 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.” 

The best absorption at lower fat levels seems to be from salad dressings using monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, which permitted an equivalent carotenoid absorption at 3 grams of fat as it did at 20 grams.

Profession Ferruzzi went on to say that:

“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.”

This study builds upon research from 2004 in which researchers at Iowa State University concluded that the bioavailability of carotenoids improved when combined with full-fat dressing as opposed to low-fat or fat-free versions.

With this important research in mind, I recently filmed a short clip showing you how to make a fast and easy full fat dressing yourself in about 15 seconds.   Once you wrap your head around the fact that you need to consume only full fat salad dressing, the next step is to realize that the ones at the store are basically not very good as they are made with inferior quality, rancid oils in most cases.

Why bother with the dressings from the store when it is so easy to make one yourself that tastes better than anything you will ever buy?

Check out how fast I make my Maple Dijon Vinaigrette and let me know what you think after you try it!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources: Meal triacylglycerol profile modulates postprandial absorption of carotenoids in humans, Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, June 18, 2012

Study: No-Fat, Low-Fat Dressings Don’t Get Most Nutrients out of Salads, ScienceDaily

Picture Credit

Comments (27)

  • AmandaLP

    I’ve been making my “bulk lunch salad” by putting chicken (organic), cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers in a bowl, then topping with lots of olive oil, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper.. You don’t even have to mix them, and they stay good in the fridge for a few days.

    August 14th, 2012 11:17 pm Reply
  • Sarah Hall

    Would you need to eat your salad with dressing if you ate it with a meal that already had lots of fat?

    August 15th, 2012 11:36 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Yes I would. I eat fats until satiation. I never limit them if they are whole and unprocessed.

      August 15th, 2012 10:43 pm Reply
  • Faith C Borbee via Facebook

    nope! I don’t use any dressing with my raw vegetables anymore, only salt free herbal blends touch of pink sea salt, 😉

    August 15th, 2012 11:37 am Reply
  • Linda

    I have been making my own salad dressings for a while now. So much better than store bought! Sarah, what olive oil do you use? I’m sure you know about the controversy of purity in olive oil.

    August 15th, 2012 11:39 am Reply
  • Sarah Hall

    My brother likes his salad without dressing.He always saves it untill
    the end of the meal. Interestingly just like you said I find it easier to
    digest with dressing! It seems to get the saliva going more! :)

    August 15th, 2012 11:44 am Reply
  • Karen Henshaw via Facebook

    I sometimes buy the fat free because it doesn’t have soybean oil in it, then I add avocado and nuts and sometimes cheeses to add fats.

    August 15th, 2012 11:53 am Reply
  • Renee Kelcey via Facebook

    Hopefully you get some fat in in another way then Faith as the fat helps you absorb the nutrients from the vegetables.

    August 15th, 2012 11:54 am Reply
  • Pavil, the Uber Noob

    We make a Ranch style salad dressing from homemade mayonaise, cheese from live dairy kefir, some artichoke juice & herbs. For me, no garden salad is complete without olives.

    Ciao, Pavil.

    August 15th, 2012 12:03 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      YUM! Yes, I make a ranch with my homemade mayo too.

      August 15th, 2012 10:45 pm Reply
  • Louise Brown via Facebook

    herbamare and olive oil!

    August 15th, 2012 12:55 pm Reply
  • Kelly Kindig via Facebook

    Someone should tell kraft that!

    August 15th, 2012 2:20 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    Nutrition question: Are white sourdough pancakes, using the recipe and culture from Cultures for Health more nutriional than the soaked pancake recipe in Nourishing Traditions? Thank you!

    August 15th, 2012 2:47 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I wouldn’t say so. Either one would be fine. I sometimes do sourdough pancakes, sometimes sprouted pancakes, but usually soaked just because it’s most convenient for me.

      August 15th, 2012 10:46 pm Reply
  • Kelli

    I already make a homemade dressing of plain white vinegar, olive oil, and few herbs as the store dressing is all full of chemicals and expensive.

    August 15th, 2012 4:38 pm Reply
  • Robin @ Thank Your Body

    We love to make our own dressing… full of good fat. I’m always amazed at how many people think they are doing their body good by eating a salad only to eat a low-fat rancid salad dressing. No thank you!

    August 15th, 2012 4:40 pm Reply
  • Vicki

    Thanks, this was a great blog!

    August 15th, 2012 6:11 pm Reply
  • Katy Dornberger Waldrop via Facebook

    Don’t anymore. I think I am actually addicted to Braggs Aminos and Olive oil on salad!

    August 15th, 2012 9:17 pm Reply
  • Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry

    Homemade salad dressing is the best. I happen to have all of the ingredients you used for this recipe on hand-looking forward to making this tomorrow. Thanks Sarah!

    August 15th, 2012 11:53 pm Reply
  • giniper

    Hi what can you say about the your blog post which allegedly has been copied by a Philippines Senator and used it for his speech?

    i don’t know the exact blog post and your link.. to it but it is something about description of the purported ill effects of birth control pills on unborn children.

    Just curious. Thanks and Nice Blog you have.

    August 16th, 2012 4:53 am Reply
  • Nathalie Farquet via Facebook

    I use grape seed oil and flax seed oil on my salad + ACV + herbs.

    August 16th, 2012 4:56 am Reply
  • sandy

    Sarah I make my dressing almost exactly as you but also add cream. It’s the best!

    August 16th, 2012 3:44 pm Reply
  • Audrey

    I am addicted to Bragg Healthy Vinaigrette. What do you think of it?

    August 19th, 2012 2:46 am Reply
  • Shelley Alexander

    Sarah, I love to make quick homemade salad dressings with my favorite oils like olive, walnut, and avocado. Healthy fats makes everything taste better and keeps you full longer. Thanks for sharing such good info.

    August 19th, 2012 6:12 pm Reply
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