To answer the question posed in our headline – Well, yes, salad dressing does matter. A lot, it turns out.
Eating the right kind of salad dressing makes the vegetables healthier, according to a Purdue University study published recently in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
And – attention fans of Gourmè Mist™ five–calorie flavor and cooking sprays – olive oil lovers are in luck:
Monounsaturated fat-rich dressings promoted the equivalent carotenoid absorption at three grams of fat as it did 20 grams.
What’s it all mean? The team at Gourmè Mist™ thought we’d share the good news while also explaining the study’s results.
Dressing Key to Getting Nutrients from Salads
The vegetables in salads are chock-full of important vitamins and nutrients, but you won’t get much benefit without the right type and amount of salad dressing, the study shows.
In a human trial, researchers fed subjects salads topped off with saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat-based dressings.
They then tested the blood of the subjects for absorption of fat-soluble carotenoids – compounds such as lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Those carotenoids are associated with reduced risk of several chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration.
The study found that:
- Monounsaturated fat-rich dressings required the least amount of fat to get the most carotenoid absorption.
- Saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat dressings required higher amounts of fat to get the same benefit.
“If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings,” said Mario Ferruzzi, the study’s lead author and a Purdue associate professor of food science.
“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.”
“Good” monounsaturated fats are normally found in the “oil” part of oil and vinegar dressings. Olive oil is about 75 percent monounsaturated fat. Canola oil is about 58 percent monounsaturated fat.
In the test, 29 people were fed salads dressed with butter as a saturated fat, olive oil and canola oil as a monounsaturated fats and corn oil as a polyunsaturated fat. Each salad was served with three grams, eight grams or 20 grams of fat from dressing.
The soybean oil rich in polyunsaturated fat was the most dependent on dose. 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.
Monounsaturated fat-rich dressings, such as canola and olive oil-based dressings, promoted the equivalent carotenoid absorption at three 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.
“Even at the lower fat level, you can absorb a significant amount of carotenoids with monounsaturated fat-rich oil,” Ferruzzi 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the research.
We at Gourmè Mist™ recommend supplementing salad dressings with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Sprays to maintain healthy eating choices while enjoying even more flavor.