Add flavour, feel fuller, and get up to twice the nutrition from your favorite healthy foods with these delicious add-ons. – By Selene Yeager
Salad dressing was invented for a reason – leafy greens are decidedly lackluster without it. But did you know that lettuce and other veggies with dressing are also more nutritious than their poor naked brethren? In fact, when it comes to the absorption of certain nutrients, they may be twice as nutritious.
Those are the findings of a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that reported that when volunteers added soybean oil (a common dressing base) to their salad vegetables, they were better able to absorb eight different fat-soluble immunity-boosting micronutrients, including alpha and beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, two forms of vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A.
The more oil test subjects added (with the maximum amount being just over two tablespoons), the more of the nutrients they absorbed. “The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption,” said study author Wendy White, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, in a statement regarding the results.
Fat also enhances flavour and helps improve satiety, so you feel fuller sooner and satisfied longer, says nutrition specialist and creator of freshfitflourish.com Brianna Elliott, RD, LD. “Here’s a good reason to get rid of fat-free dressings that might be taking up space in your fridge; fat-free dressings are often laden with added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients to make up for the flavour that was lost with the fat,” she says.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to salad dressing. The following high-fat condiments pair perfectly with your favourite pre- and post-ride snacks to ensure your active cycling body gets maximum nutrition from every bite. Just keep an eye on portion sizes. These are meant to complement your meals and snacks, not be the main course.
Made from mashed avocado, guacamole is brimming with healthy fats as well as more than a dozen different vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid. Just skip the chips and pair your guac with crudités instead for the biggest nutritional hit. You also can use it as a spread along with a fistful of spinach to add an antioxidant punch to any sandwich.
With an olive oil base, pesto is the perfect nutrition-amping complement to grilled or roasted vegetables. Stuff inside a baguette or wrap in a tortilla for a free-radical-fighting meal.
Nut or Seed Butter
Cashew, almond, sesame, sunflower seed, or old-fashioned peanut butters are all rich in nutritious unsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol and help fight inflammation. They’re also rich in fiber, protein, and health-promoting compounds like phytosterols that may help keep cholesterol in check. Pair with sweet potatoes for an antioxidant assault. Or add some water and spice and make a nutty sauce to drizzle on a vegetable curry.
Made from olives, this briny spread is rich in oleic acid, the monounsaturated acid that protects your heart. It’s also rich in antioxidant polyphenols, which protect you from cell damage. Spoon on salads, sautéed vegetables, or on a lettuce and tomato sandwich. Looking to get more energy out of your diet?
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The longtime favourite among dieters has a well-deserved place on any health-conscious person’s plate. At 14 grams per half-cup, it’s high in protein, low in carbs, and delivers an array of healthy fatty acids that pump up the nutrition on your salad plate. Add a dollop to sliced tomatoes, melon chunks, or any bed of mixed fruit and greens.
Full Fat Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is made up mostly of saturated fats, but it also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may help to protect against type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Choose the plain, non-sweetened kind and add fresh berries for an antioxidant-packed snack.
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