Recently, researchers from Purdue University released a study that showed why fat is an essential part of any salad. They argued that low- and no-fat salad dressings made the vitamins and nutrients in greens and veggies less available to the body. That's because carotenoids—a class of nutrient that includes lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin—is fat soluble and can't be absorbed by the body unless it's delivered with some fat as well.
But that doesn't mean you should pull out the Ranch and blue cheese dressing just yet. Researchers discovered that certain types of fats were more efficient at drawing out the nutrients, meaning that a salad didn't have to become a high-fat affair.
"You can absorb significant amounts of carotenoids with saturated or polyunsaturated fats at low levels, but you would see more carotenoid absorption as you increase the amounts of those fats on a salad," said lead researcher Mario Ferruzzi, an associate professor of food science at Purdue, in a statement. The secret? Using monounsaturated fats, which aided nutrient absorption, even in a small portion size of three grams.
We covered the study here and readers weighed in about their favorite salad fats in the comments. Using those and a host of other options culled from the USDA database, we've compiled a list of great fats to include in your next salad to maximize vitamin absorption without overstepping your daily allowance: