Why Dietitians Say That Fat-Free Salad Dressing Is the Biggest Scam of All Time

The Dead Golfer Capsule
Food culture likes to tell us to prioritize foods with the lowest amount of carbs, calories, fat, sugar, and other demonized ingredients . Grocery stores are full of these options, too, from low-fat peanut butter to low-carb frozen meals. Ads and magazines tell us we should eat as little as possible and that doing so will make us (roll eyes) “healthy”. While we are surrounded by this information, this suggestion is far from true.

Here’s an example of what we mean: Claire Chewning , RD, an intuitive eating nutritionist, recently shared on TikTok that since vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, your body needs fat to make it easier to Absorb them. These vitamins are found in common salad foods. Vitamin A is found in celery, red cabbage and tomatoes. Vitamin D is found in mushrooms and cheese, while vitamin E is found in olives. These vitamins contribute to vision, healthy skin, improved immune system function, bone strength, prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and hip fractures, and more.

Other nutritionists attest to the benefits of fat, especially in salads. “Using a full-fat salad dressing helps ensure your body can take advantage of all the nutrients in the salad,” says Colleen Christensen, MD, an Intuitive Eating nutritionist and founder of No Food Rules .

This study backs it up, too. A 2012 study in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that salads with the highest fat content (20 grams) resulted in the highest absorption of carotenoids . (In this case, the antioxidants in vegetables.

In fact, fat does a lot to keep our bodies healthy and our stomachs full. According to Christensen, fat supports cell growth and hormone production. Unsaturated fats may protect against certain disease states, such as heart disease, she added. What’s more, eating foods that contain monounsaturated fats  — such as nuts, olive oil, and avocados — was linked to less cognitive decline , according to a 2011 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society .

“Many people find that full-fat salad dressings taste more pleasant than non-fat salad dressings, which will allow them to incorporate more nutrient-dense vegetables into their day,” says Christensen. “Eating something that tastes good to you is huge! It helps us feel satisfied with what we eat instead of going to the pantry 20 minutes later looking for a cookie to ‘hit the spot’. In short, eating what you want to start can actually help you.

So, what kind of ingredient base should you be looking for in your salad dressing? In general, it’s best to choose unsaturated oils because they’re “generally considered ‘health-boosting and make great salad dressings,” says Christensen. More specifically, you have plenty of options, Chris Tensen added, for example:

  • Olive Oil : Great for Neutral Palates and a Kitchen Staple
  • Avocado Oil : Another Kitchen Staple
  • Sesame oil : can be used in recipes at different temperatures (room temperature and hot) as it has a fairly high smoke point, unlike some other oils

(Side note: If you prefer to make your own dressing, Christensen shares some recipes below!

Choosing fatty foods is also a healthy alternative to salads. For example, vitamin A-rich carrots pair well with full-fat ranch dressing. Or, when you have a late-night snack of cereal and milk, loaded with vitamin D, grab a carton of whole milk.

“Our society has long promoted low-fat, low-calorie products, which is highly relevant to food culture,” Christensen said. “Now, we understand that lower fat and/or calories aren’t actually always a better option and can actually have negative mental and physical effects. This is especially true in salad dressings when you need a source of fat to fully absorb rich nutrients hour.



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