Salad Dressings Promote Bioavailability of Certain Nutrients from Salad Vegetables

Eating just one salad a day provides even greater health benefits than previously thought, according to a study that examined the salad consumption of more than 17,000 adults.  The study, conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health, and published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (JADA),* found that those who eat salads and raw vegetables with salad dressing have considerably higher levels of vitamins C, E, and folic acid.

The findings of this study are consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that recommend increasing vegetable and fruit intake and eating a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.  Salads are a great way to meet your daily recommendation for fruits and vegetables.

According to the study:

  • Eating a salad a day is directly correlated with higher nutrient levels.
  • Adding salad dressing to a salad increases the absorption of certain nutrients being consumed.
  • The fat in salad dressing helps absorb key nutrients such as lycopene and alpha- and beta-carotene.
  • People who eat salads, salad dressing, and raw vegetables are more likely to meet recommended intakes for vitamins C, E and folic acid.
  • High fruit and vegetable consumption has also been associated with lower rates of pre-menopausal bone loss in women.
  • Consumption of as little as one serving of salad or raw vegetables per day is significantly associated with the likelihood of meeting the recommended nutrient intakes of each of vitamins A, E, B6, and folic acid.

Additional research:

Researchers from Iowa State University and Ohio State University published a study in the August 2004 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed eating salad vegetables with some added fat, such as full-fat salad dressings, promotes the absorption of lycopene, alpha- and beta-carotenes. In 2012, a study from Purdue University published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research confirmed these findings.  This study also determined that consuming salads with fat added from dressings increased the absorption of certain nutrients (i.e., carotenoids). 

*The American Dietetic Association is now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.