Are you trying to cut calories by pouring no- or low-fat dressing on your salad? If so, you may be cutting nutrients, too. Turns out that some fat in your salad helps you better absorb healthy plant-based carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene, which are associated with a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and age-related macular degeneration.

All dressings with fat help absorption, but the healthiest choice is a monounsaturated-based type, such as canola or olive oil. Monounsaturated requires the least amount of fat—3 grams—to absorb the most carotenoids among the three types of dressings.

For the best health benefits, fill your plate with colorful vegetables like spinach, tomatoes and carrots, and top with no more than two to three tablespoons of monounsaturated dressing.

Source: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol. 56, p. 866; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 20 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 20 Jul 2013