The Salad Mistake You’re Probably Making

Adios, dry and boring lunch salads.

Let’s be honest: How many sad-desk lunch salads have you eaten dry, as in no salad dressing, because you were told that it’s healthier? Well, good news: Those sad salads can be a thing of the past thanks to new research showing soybean oil, a common ingredient in commercial salad dressings, actually plays a big role in helping you to get the most nutrients out of your bowl of veggies.

Per Futurity, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, conducted by associate professor of food science and human nutrition Wendy White and her team at Iowa State University, found that added fat from soybean oil helps the body absorb more micronutrients found in salad greens and veggie toppings. The study found it helped participants to absorb more of seven micronutrients to be exact: alpha and beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene, two forms of vitamins E and vitamins K. The study was small, examining only 12 college-aged women, testing their blood after eating salads with various levels of soybean oil to measure the amount of nutrients they absorbed. The researchers found a direct correlation between the proportion of oil on the participants’ salads and nutrient absorption, with the best nutrient absorption occurring at about 32 grams of oil, which is slightly more than two tablespoons.

This doubles down on what food-for-beauty guru Jolene Hart told us awhile ago: “In order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, we need healthy fats in our diets.” That said, don’t go too nuts with the salad-drenching —two tablespoons of oil is still the U.S. dietary recommendation, White stresses. And while you’re brushing up on tricks to keep your salads as healthy as can be, take note of these 10 other ways you’re sabotaging your bowl of greens here.

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly—here’s how: