You've finally resolved to eat better, but you just can't accept that olive oil, a fat, could possibly be good for you. So as the National Cancer Institute has suggested, you went out to the store and bought a few bottles of nonfat salad dressing and every fruit and vegetable in sight. Now you're on the second week of your low-fat diet, you've managed to eat a salad every day, and you're feeling proud. After all, the salad is full of arugula, broccoli bits, carrots, and other high-fiber, carotene-rich foods. And you've consumed this bounty of healthy food with nary a single gram of fat because you have dutifully obeyed the no-fat mantra and used only nonfat salad dressing. Low-cal, low-fat, and supernutritious — it doesn't get any better than this for a low-fat dieter, right? Wrong.
By cutting the fat out of your salad dressing, you may have cheated yourself out of some of the most significant health benefits that salad has to offer. One of the best-kept secrets about carotenes — plant-derived, cancer-fighting phytochemicals — is that you need a little fat to absorb them. Eat no fat and the carotene passes through your system and, quite literally, goes down the drain. You can rest assured that the manufacturers of nonfat salad dressing aren't going to share this secret with you.