Add Monounsaturated Fats to Unlock Nutrients from Vegetables
Everybody knows that a diet filled with fresh raw vegetables and greens are essential to vibrant health and prevention of chronic diseases, but few understand how the fats they consume along with these foods help to unlock the nutrient store provided by a healthy diet. At the ill-advised advice of many dieticians and medical professionals, people are encouraged to follow a low fat diet that includes fat free salad dressings laden with added sugars for flavoring.
Monounsaturated Fats Including Olive Oil Help Maximize Nutrient Absorption in the Body
Researchers from Purdue University published the result of a study in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research that demonstrates how the type and quantity of salad dressing determines the bioavailability of fat soluble carotenoids (including lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin) in vegetables and fruits. Carotenoids are associated with reduced risk of several chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration.
To conduct the study, twenty-nine people were fed salads dressed with butter as a saturated fat, canola oil as a monounsaturated fat and corn oil as a polyunsaturated fat. Each salad was served with 3 grams, 8 grams or 20 grams of fat from dressing. The study team found that polyunsaturated fats (soybean oil) was highly dependent on the dose provided, as they found The more fat on the salad, the more carotenoids the subjects absorbed. The saturated fat butter was also dose-dependent, but to a lesser extent.
Use a Simple Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing to Unlock Nutrient Bioavailability
The lead study author, Dr. Mario Ferruzzi noted “If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings.” The researchers found that monounsaturated fat sources including olive oil provided the same carotenoid absorption at 3 grams of fat as it did 20 grams, suggesting that this lipid source may be a good choice for those craving lower fat options but still wanting to optimize absorption of health-promoting carotenoids from fresh vegetables.
The study team concluded “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.” An even better alternative to using processed, commercially manufactured salad dressings would be to make your own simple dressing using cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and vinegar mixed with a variety of fresh herbs to maximize nutrient bioavailability.
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John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.
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