If you're trying to lose weight, salads are a great option — they fill you up without too much fat or calories. The other great thing about indulging your salad habit is that they provide many essential nutrients that you may be missing in your diet. But if you normally top your salad with fat-free dressing, you may be sabotaging your healthy plans; research has shown that low- or nonfat dressings limit the amount of nutrients your body absorbs from your salad.
The research, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, found that when a study group of 29 people ate salads dressed with different amounts of saturated fat (butter), monounsaturated fat (canola oil), or polyunsaturated fat (corn oil), the amount of nutrients their bodies absorbed increased with the amount of fat in their dressing. This means that while eating a salad devoid of fat may be good for your overall daily calorie count, your body will miss out on all those key nutrients in your plate of veggies.
Dressing your salad with unhealthy saturated fats or dousing it with way too much fat-filled dressing may defeat the purpose of eating healthy, but there's good news: the researchers also found that when it comes to monounsaturated fats, the levels of nutrients absorbed were similar whether the participants ate three grams of monounsaturated fat or 20 grams. Monounsaturated fats, found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados, are already healthy for you: they've been shown to lower your risk of heart disease and protect your brain. So whether you make your own olive-oil-based dressing or top your salad with a few slices of avocado, here's another great reason to make sure every salad contains a little bit of healthy fats.
Need dressing ideas? Check out these 10 homemade salad dressings, and let us know what type of salad dressing you normally use!