Don’t use fat-free dressing.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Eating fat-free salad dressing reduces the benefits of eating salad.
WHAT WE KNOW
Some nutrients, including beta carotene, are absorbed into the blood only when they are dissolved in fat. (These are the fat-soluble nutrients). Fat-free salad dressing contains no fat, so will not provide a way for these nutrients to be absorbed.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
Fat has to be present in the intestine to allow fat soluble nutrients to be absorbed, but that fat does not need to come from the salad dressing. Any ingredient which contains fat will work- nuts, avocados, cheese or meat on the salad, olive oil in which you’ve dipped your bread, any fat in an entrée or desert. Eaten at the same meal as your salad, this fat will provide the vehicle to absorb your nutrients. Remember that it takes 2-3 hours for the average meal to leave your stomach, and several more hours for it to travel through your intestine, so there’s plenty of time for the nutrients to dissolve in the fat.
If your meal contains no fat, from any source, then it would be better to choose a salad dressing that contains some fat. If you’re having something else with your salad that will provide some fat, such as meat, cheese, fried foods or a rich dessert, fat-free salad dressings may lower your calorie intake and won’t decrease nutrient absorption.