Video: Fewer Nutrients Absorbed When Using Lowfat Dressing

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

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)

  1. Pingback: It’s Good To Be Back! | The Real Foodie

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist August 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      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.

  7. Pavil, the Uber Noob August 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    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.

  8. 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! :)

  9. 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.

  10. Faith C Borbee via Facebook August 15, 2012 at 11:37 am

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

  11. 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.


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