Eating Well

Fats and Oils Unlock Salad Nutrients

Most people put oil on their salad because it tastes good, but researchers at Iowa State have found another good reason: fats and oils help our bodies absorb at least eight micronutrients found in a vegetable salad. An Iowa State news release reports that the researchers found that soybean oil aided in the absorption of four carotenoids – alpha and beta carotene, lutein and lycopene – two forms of vitamin E and vitamin K, and it also promoted the absorption of vitamin A, the eighth micronutrient tracked in the study, which formed in the intestine from the alpha and beta carotene. The study also found that the amount of oil added to the vegetables had a proportional relationship with the amount of nutrient absorption. More oil means more absorption. “The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption,” says Wendy White, the associate professor of food science and human nutrition, who led the study. White said better absorption of the nutrients promotes a range of health benefits, including cancer prevention and eyesight preservation.

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