The Skinny on Salad Dressings

We’d all like to lose a few pounds right? And on the quest for a slimmer waistline we find ourselves exchanging lots of full fat foods for their low fat and fat free counterparts. This is a great way to easily cut down on some calories, but could it be doing us more harm than good?

Take salads for example. You’ll be having far less calories if you switch your mayonnaise for balsamic vinegar, but cutting the fat could actually be making your salad less healthy.



Oils are good for your heart

For starters, fats aren’t always bad. The fats in olive or canola oil are called monounsaturated fats and are actually good for you. This study looked at the effect of fats on a person’s risk of heart disease. They found that people who ate lots of saturated fats (like the ones in processed meat and dairy products) had the highest risk of heart disease. That’s no surprise right? And you’d think that people who ate less fat altogether would have the lowest risk right? But they actually found that the people with the lowest risk of heart disease were those who replaced saturated bad fats with monounsaturated good fats like the ones in vegetable oils and nuts. Who’d have thought!

You miss out on your salad’s nutrients if you skip the dressing

The vegetables in salad are virtually fat-free and packed full of carotenoids. Carotenoids are super good for you and can be converted into vitamin A or used in your body as antioxidants. But your body needs a little help to be able to absorb these wonder compounds, and that help comes in the form of fats.

A study by researchers at the University of Iowa showed this in a recent study. They had three groups of people and fed them each the same salad. The difference was in the dressing. The first group’s salad had a fat free dressing, the second a low fat version and the third had a salad with full fat, traditional salad dressing. The researcher fed their subjects the salads and then took blood samples and measured the levels of carotenoids in each person’s blood.

The results were pretty clear. The people who ate their salad with fat free dressing had very small amounts of the healthy carotenoids in their blood in comparison to those with the fattier dressings. The people who had 1 or 2 tablespoons of oily dressing on their salads absorbed lots more of the good nutrients from their salad than their fat free counterparts.

So full fat mayonnaise is good! Without it you might be short changing yourself and missing out on a lot of the good stuff in your salad.

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