Fat is needed to maximize the absorption of certain important phytonutrients.
Image thanks to SweetOnVeg.
Final step: the dressing. Which is more nutritious, a salad with an oil-free dressing or salad with an oil-based dressing?
And the answer is fat-filled. What? Why? Because many of the phytonutrients in salad are fat soluble and so our body needs fat to absorb them. The bioavailability of nutrients is higher when you take in fat.
Check this out: Here’s the amount of these nutrients we can measure in your blood stream over the course of ten hours after you eat a salad with fatty dressing. This is how much you get from reduced fat dressing—with the open circles, and at the bottom—the triangles—is the amount of this nutrition you absorb from a fat free salad. Essentially nada, zero. Why did you even eat it to begin with?
Now oil isn’t good for you—it’s basically just a lot of empty calories. The healthiest way to eat fat is from whole foods, like nuts and seeds. So a dressing made with tahini, which is just ground sesame seeds, or a creamy dressing you can whip up on your own by blending nuts like cashews is the best way to absorb all that nutrition in our salads. Or you can use a fat-free dressing and just throw some nuts and seeds on top. My family’s favorite is freshly toasted walnuts. Just 5 walnut halves is all the fat you need to get at those fat soluble nutrients in your greens.
Similarly, this is all the lycopene you absorb from salsa—that great red phytonutrient that protects against cancer. Why? Because salsa is a fat-free food. This is how much you absorb if you add some avocado to that salsa. Again, the fat helps you suck up the nutrition. And adding a whole avocado worked just as well as adding a half of one. In fact, just one-quarter of an avocado is probably all you need to add to salsa or salad to maximize absorption.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on absorption. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!
Check out my associated blog post, How to Enhance Mineral Absorption.