Background: The amount of dietary fat required for optimal bioavailability of carotenoids in plant matrices is not clearly defined.
Objective: The objective was to quantify the appearance of carotenoids in plasma chylomicrons after subjects ingested fresh vegetable salads with fat-free, reduced-fat, or full-fat salad dressings.
Design: The subjects (n = 7) each consumed 3 salads consisting of equivalent amounts of spinach, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and carrots with salad dressings containing 0, 6, or 28 g canola oil. The salads were consumed in random order separated by washout periods of > or =2 wk. Blood samples were collected hourly from 0 to 12 h. Chylomicrons were isolated by ultracentrifugation, and carotenoid absorption was analyzed by HPLC with coulometric array detection.
Results: After ingestion of the salads with fat-free salad dressing, the appearance of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene in chylomicrons was negligible. After ingestion of the salads with reduced-fat salad dressing, the appearance of the carotenoids in plasma chylomicrons increased relative to that after ingestion of the salads with fat-free salad dressing (P < 0.04). Similarly, the appearance of the carotenoids in plasma chylomicrons was higher after the ingestion of salads with full-fat than with reduced-fat salad dressing (P < 0.02).
Conclusions: High-sensitivity HPLC with coulometric array detection enabled us to quantify the intestinal absorption of carotenoids ingested from a single vegetable salad. Essentially no absorption of carotenoids was observed when salads with fat-free salad dressing were consumed. A substantially greater absorption of carotenoids was observed when salads were consumed with full-fat than with reduced-fat salad dressing.