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  Don't Be Afraid of a Little Fat

Fat intake has become an obsession in this country; every day, it seems as if a new fat-free product hits the market, or an existing product is modified so that it has less fat than before. But some fat intake isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a recent study shows that specific amounts of some fats appear to improve the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream, which may help reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Researchers in Iowa studied a group of young men and women between the ages of 19 and 28 who ate salads topped with a dressing that contained 0, 6, or 28 grams of canola oil, respectively. Blood samples were taken hourly for up to 12 hours after each meal. Results showed that when the study participants consumed salads with the fat-free dressings, they absorbed virtually no beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. However, when they consumed salads with reduced-fat or full-fat dressings, they had higher absorption rates of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene, all of which help fight conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

The lesson here? Some fat might not be as bad as you think; in fact, consumed in moderation, it may actually be good for you. Look for salad dressings and other foods that derive their fat content from olive oil or canola oil, both of which are high in monounsaturated fat. And if you insist on fat-free dressings, mix a few slices of avocado or cheese in your salad to help absorb nutrients.

To learn more about the benefits of sound nutrition, visit www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/nutrition.

References: Brown MJ, Ferruzzi MG, Nguyen ML, et al. Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition August 2004;80(2):396-403.