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Canola, Olive Oil Salad Dressings Promote Nutrient AbsorptionCanola, Olive Oil Salad Dressings Promote Nutrient Absorption

June 20, 2012

2 Min Read
Canola, Olive Oil Salad Dressings Promote Nutrient Absorption

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.Salad dressings can help the vegetables go down, but some can block absorption of important nutrients. In a study published early online in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, Purdue University researchers found that monounsaturated fat-rich dressings required the least amount of fat to get the most carotenoid absorption, while saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat dressings required higher amounts of fat to get the same benefit.

For the study, 29 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 subjects' blood was then tested for absorption of fat-soluble carotenoids, such as lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.

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 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.

"If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings," says 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."

Even at the lower fat level, you can absorb a significant amount of carotenoids with monounsaturated fat-rich canola oil," Ferruzzi continues. "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."

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