Clean, Colourful Plant Food Seeks Fatty Companion
By Gaetana Korbin
Early, one morning, at West Wood Organics, the frisée was overheard whispering to the olive oil: “hey Babe, you bring out the best in me.”….
Though this was an intimate moment, caught between two foodstuffs, it is no intimate secret that it is essential to eat plant foods with a source of healthy fat in order to make them a love-match in the human digestive system. Fat maximizes the value of veggies because vitamins found in vegetables are FAT-SOLUBLE. Soluble is when something is able to be dissolved. So, when a vitamin is ‘fat’-soluble, that means fat is required for the vitamin to dissolve properly so that it can be incorporated into the body. We eat to maintain or increase our nutrient status, so that our bodies can do what they need to do.
This is the foundation for good health. While most of us know that eating plant foods is a healthy choice, it is less well-known that fat is a vital part of this equation in order to increase micronutrient (vitamin) status.
The fat soluble vitamins that we obtain from plant foods are A,D,E, and K. Carrots, squash and sweet potato provide us with vitamin A. Vitamin D can be obtained from wild mushrooms like chanterelles and morels. Vitamin E is found in spinach, asparagus and swiss chard; while kale, spinach and broccoli are all sources of vitamin K. Other powerful micronutrients in plant foods that require fat are alpha carotene, beta carotene, lutein and lycopene.
A recent study at Iowa State University set out to measure the nutrient levels in the blood of test subjects who were divided into specific groups. The groups ate salad with varying amounts of oil and the results confirmed that “adding twice the amount of salad dressing (oil) leads to twice the nutrient absorption”.1 The test subjects whose salad had the least oil absorbed the least vitamins.
Dr. Wendy White, who led the study, recommends about two to three tablespoons of healthy fat per day, and explains that “better absorption of these micronutrients promotes a wide range of health benefits, including cancer prevention and eyesight preservation.”2 Fat does promote human health, after all!
Healthy fat sources include: olive oil, grass fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, nuts and seeds and avocado. A green, leafy salad with olive oil and lemon dressing is a perfect way to combine plant foods with fat. Roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash in coconut oil are another delicious combination. Melt some butter onto steamed broccoli or asparagus to retain all the goodness. The next time you grab some celery and carrot sticks on the go, have a handful of nuts, as well!
Since fruits like blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and mango also contain fat soluble micronutrients, you can apply this principle to your dessert, as well. What a great excuse to eat ice cream! Adding berries to full-fat yogurt or ice cream is the perfect summer food pairing, made for maximum vitamin and antioxidant absorption. As for that other food pairing–the love-struck frisée and olive oil? Well, it turns out that the ‘chemistry’ between them was just basic science. But let’s let them think it was romantic destiny.
Footnotes 1 and 2: Iowa State University of Science and Technology news service,
October 9, 2017.
Gaetana Korbin holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of British Columbia. With two years of formal Nutrition Studies at CSNN in Vancouver and eighteen years of feeding her family, she loves to share her nutrition knowledge, garnered form decades of studies and research.
Disclaimer: This is written for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.