Transcript: Forego Fat-Free Dressings?
The 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: not fat-free, but 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 that can be measured in our bloodstream over the course of ten hours after we eat a salad with fatty dressing. This is how much we 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. Same salad, but we absorb essentially nada, zero. Why did we 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 by blending nuts like cashews on your own; these are better ways 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 five walnut halves is all the fat you need to get at those fat-soluble nutrients in our greens.
Similarly, this is all the lycopene we absorb from salsa—that great red phytonutrient that protects against cancer. Why so little? Salsa is packed with lycopene, but, because salsa is a fat-free food, we absorb very little. But this is how much we absorb if we add some avocado to that salsa. Again, the fat helps suck up the nutrition. And adding a whole avocado in the study worked just as well as adding half of one. In fact, just one-quarter of an avocado is probably all the fat we 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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