Diet Myth #2: Plain Vegetables are Better for You

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As part of our research for "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," we conducted a "Ditch the Diet Taste Test." We asked successful SparkPeople members, yo-yo dieters and others to answer questions about weight loss, healthy eating, and dieting--and to pit Chef Meg's healthy, delicious recipes against traditional, bland "diet food."
You can read all about the Taste Test in Chapter 2 of "The SparkPeople Cookbook," but this week we're sharing five of the diet myths we debunked as part of that project.

Diet Myth #2: Plain Vegetables are Better for You

Love broccoli with a bit of butter? Some cheese on your cauliflower? Want some (reduced-fat) ranch with that salad? Go ahead. We insist!

I love vegetables, but even I can’t chow down on a bowl of dry greens. It’s a matter of preference, but I always dress my greens before I serve a salad. Each bite is well coated and flavorful, and I’m not tempted to overload on dressing at the table. Some people prefer to have dressing on the side, which is a good idea in theory. The next time you ask for dressing on the side at a restaurant, notice the amount they give you. While I use less than a tablespoon of dressing per salad, restaurants deliver up to four times that much. Even if you daintily dip the tines of your fork into the salad before each bite, you’ll still likely use more.

At home, when you’re in charge, try tossing your greens in a measured amount of dressing. You’ll find flavor in every bite.
If you're opting for fat-free dressings because you think it's better for you, think again.

Small amounts of healthy fats are an important part of the satisfaction of a salad. A little fat will do, but you’ll find that a vinaigrette with a balance of rich oil and tangy vinegar is more enjoyable than vinegar alone.

Still not convinced? Your body can’t make use of certain vitamins and antioxidants (beta-carotene, vitamin D, and vitamin E in particular) without a bit of fat to help process them. In addition, fat helps transport vitamins A, D, E, and K.

In 2004, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who consumed salads with fat-free dressing absorbed fewer phytonutrients (the organic components of plants) and vitamins than those who ate the same salad of spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots with a dressing containing fat.

Our taste testers agreed. During our Ditch the Diet Taste Test, those who ate iceberg lettuce with a fat-free dressing rated it lower than our mixed greens salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette (page 387).

SparkPeople Cookbook Challenge: Add some fat to your dressing. Whether you make your own (check out Chapter 12) or buy one with a short ingredient list is up to you. Your salad will be so much more flavorful and satisfying.

Learn more about this diet myth in "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." Click here to get five sneak peek recipes, too.

Do you buy into this diet myth? Why or why not? Do you prefer veggies plain or with a bit of sauce, butter, or dressing?

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