Salads are a convenient and tasty way to make sure you’re getting enough vegetables in your diet but sometimes, the addition of salad dressing can add fat and empty calories to your otherwise healthy plate.
Luckily, recent studies show that some salad dressing varieties, like types made with vegetable oils, can actually help your body absorb nutrients.
According to Patricia Groziak, M.S., R.D., the senior nutrition manager for Unilever, the presence of dietary fat is important for the body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and E.
“A variety of studies have looked at the body’s absorption of these vitamins from common food sources, including raw vegetable salads,” said Groziak. “Research has shown that absorption of carotenoids (vitamin A) and vitamin E is greater when salad vegetables are eaten with full-fat or reduced-fat dressings as compared with a dressing that contained no oil.”
While it’s simple and cost effective to dress your salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, some brands offer salad dressings that contain soybean, canola and vegetable oils that help increase the absorption of vitamins A and E from salads, as compared to a salad without dressing.
“The fat composition of a dressing will vary based on the oils used in the recipe,” said Groziak. “For example, canola and soybean oils contain higher amounts of polyunsaturated fats and the essential fatty acids, omega-3 ALA and omega-6 LA, than olive oil.”
Make sure to check the nutrition labels before you top your salad, because some dressings might do more harm to your diet than good.