FAT SALAD? People need some fat with uncooked vegetables in order to absorb nutrients, new research shows.

Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that when people ate salads with fat-free dressing, their bodies did not absorb alpha carotene, beta carotene or lycopene, substances known to protect against cancer and heart disease. But when they used regular or even reduced-fat dressing, their carotenoid levels rose.

The findings suggest that people should include small amounts of cheese, meat or other sources of fat in their salads -- or opt for something other than nonfat dressing -- to get the most out of their veggies, said study author Wendy S. White. But (you knew she'd add this): "The key" to adding fats to vegetables, she said, "is moderation."

BLUE STATES U.S. adults spent an average of three days a month feeling "sad, blue or depressed" during 1995 to 2000, according to a new study in Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.

"People who reported a higher number of sad, blue or depressed days also reported engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as cigarette smoking and physical inactivity," the authors write.

Rosemarie Kobau and colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 166,000 responses to an annual phone survey of residents in 38 states.

Women reported more dark days than men (3.5 days vs. 2.4 days). Adults aged 18 to 24 reported the highest number of sad days. People who exercised had 1.3 fewer down days than those who did not exercise, and those who never smoked cigarettes had 2.4 fewer days of depressive symptoms than those who smoked more than a pack a day.

Money and education help, too. College graduates and those with household incomes over $50,000 were also less blue than those with less education and money.

SO NOTED "Across the country, there are approximately 7,000 bike shops compared to 40,000 fitness clubs. There are so many more places we can sell to . . . we plan to concentrate more on the fitness industry than the bicycle industry."

-- Brian Webb, sales manager for Eastern Bikes, elaborating in Bicycle Retailer magazine on the observation that sales of products such as spinning machines and stationary bikes might soon surpass sales of conventional bicycles.

RECENTLY SPOTTED BUMPER STICKER "Be Kind to Your Children. They Will Be Picking Your Nursing Home."

-- From News Services and Staff Reports