Cancer could be prevented by adding a particular oil into your diet, according to scientists.
A study by Iowa State University found that drizzling soybean oil on food boosted absorption of several key nutrients.
Researchers showed that the oil helped the body’s uptake of four carotenoids—alpha and beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene—two forms of vitamin E and vitamin K.
Better absorption of nutrients has been linked to a range of health benefits, from warding off cancer to preserving eyesight.
Soybean oil is a common ingredient in salad dressings, and is also used regularly in Thai dishes.
The researchers found that the more soybean oil consumed – in this case it was added as dressing to salad – the better the absorption of nutrients was.
“The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption,” said Professor Wendy White, at Iowa State University.
“For most people, the oil is going to benefit nutrient absorption.”
In the study, researchers tested female participants’ blood to monitor nutrient levels.
They found that 32g of oil – or two tablespoons – was the point of maximal nutrient uptake.
Soybean oil is rich in healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.
Previous research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 showed that dietary fat is necessary for the body to absorb nutrients from fruits and vegetables.
In the study, people who ate fat-free salad dressing accessed far fewer helpful phytonutrients and vitamins from spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots than others who consumed their salads with a dressing containing fat.
If you are not a fan of oil, eating avocado and nuts also provides plenty of dietary fat.
According to Cancer Research UK, diet has been linked with several different types of cancer including lung cancer, stomach cancer, mouth cancer and bowel cancer.
They recommend eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as fibre.