Are fat free salad dressings the best choice?

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Are fat free salad dressings the healthiest choice?

We can certainly benefit in many ways from eating good-sized portions of salad regularly.   The fiber, vitamins and antioxidants are vital to good health, and in addition, the salad fills us up so we eat less of other, fattening foods.

Many published guidelines have hammered on us to cut the salad dressing in order to cut calories.   A lot of us do.  Is this entirely wise? 

Maybe not.  As published in Third Age, Harvard researchers have found a snag in the fat free salad craze:

"Pour on the oil and vinegar when munching on those greens. Harvard researchers say the mix is a good source of polyunsaturated fats that help protect the heart -- and low-fat and fat-free salad dressings may not be doing the job.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the scientists who looked at the eating habits of more than 76,000 women for more than 10 years found a higher intake of oil and vinegar dressings significantly reduced the risk of fatal ischemic heart disease.

The researchers say the heart-protective factor found in alpha-linolenic acid is available readily in oil and vinegar mixes along with mayonnaise and creamy salad dressings -- but popular fat-free products tend to reduce or  even eliminate the substance.

The study raises 'concern about widespread use of fat-free salad dressings, which has eliminated an important source of alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acids' in Americans' diets, the researchers say. "

Certainly if you cannot abide fat free dressings, eat your salad with whatever you wish; the benefits of raw veggies even with a fatty dressing undoubtedly outweigh any harm for most people; what's really dangerous is not eating your vegetables.  But if you're presently using non-fat salad dressing on a regular basis, maybe it isn't worth it.  You may wish to look elsewhere for calorie cuts.  

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