Dips are a great vehicle to get more veggies into your diet. Slather carrots, pepper, and celery sticks with hummus and you've got a fiber- and vitamin-rich snack that'll hold you over until your next meal. But while hummus can be a nutrient-dense pick, it's not the only dietitian-approved dip.
When choosing a healthy dip to complement your crudités, dietitians Destini Moody, RDN, and Jordan Hill, RDN, with Top Nutrition Coaching suggest heeding the following advice:
- Look for low-sodium: "Since dips are mostly meant to be self-stable and long-lasting, many dips have high amounts of sodium from preservatives," Moody says. Find a dip that has no more than 10% of the daily value of sodium per serving, she suggests. According to the FDA, a daily value of 20% or higher is considered a high-sodium food, so the farther your chosen dip is from that number, the better.
- Check out the fat source: "Dips made with cream, other full-fat dairy products, mayonnaise, and pork products, tend to be high in saturated fat, which has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease," Moody says. The Daily Value for saturated fat is less than 20 grams per day, which isn't a generous allowance, so aim to consume as little saturated fat as possible from your chosen dips. The USDA recommends replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in your diet more often, so try to stick to dips that contain fat from sources like olive oil and avocado oil, Moody says.
- Keep sugar, protein, and fiber in mind: Dips tend to be higher in fat than they do sugar and protein. "If you're looking to keep to healthier dip options, I'd recommend sticking with ones that have 0 grams of added sugar and at least 2 grams protein," Hill says. "Fiber content is likely to be lower in dips as well, so if you find one with at least 2 grams fiber, that's a win."
Now that you know what to look for in the perfect crudités companion, check out the best and worst store-bought dips below. And feel free to pair the best ones with these 16 Healthy Store-Bought Crackers, According to Dietitians.
The 5 Healthiest Dips
Best: Tribe Roasted Garlic Hummus
Caramelized roasted garlic takes hummus to a new level, and this sweet-savory dip from Tribe will become your new go-to. But it doesn't only satisfy on the tastebud front. "Tribe's roasted garlic hummus is made with both canola and olive oil, two omega-3 rich oils," Hill says. "While we need both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, the typical American diet tends to contain more omega-6 oils than omega-3s, which can cause inflammation in the body. And this hummus is a great choice if looking to increase your total omega-3 fatty acid intake," Hill tells us. In addition to boasting a healthy fat profile, this creamy hummus also contains some fiber and protein to keep you full.
Best: Wholly Guacamole Avocado Verde
Spice up your Taco Tuesdays with Wholly Guacamole's Avocado Verde dip that's made with Hass avocados, tomatillos, onions, and jalapeños. "Its ingredient list is comprised of only whole foods, and this product contains minimal sodium and 0 grams of added sugar," Hill says. "Its first ingredient, avocado, provides a dose of healthy fats to support fat-soluble vitamin absorption and anti-inflammatory processes," she says. Each two-tablespoon serving has just 50 calories and 1 gram of fiber, so you'll want to pair it with some protein-rich chicken or fish tacos for extra staying power.
Best: Esti Foods Baba Ghanoush
Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern dip traditionally made of smoked eggplant, olive oil, tahini, and spices — all very nutrient-dense ingredients. Esti Foods keeps its recipe clean with just eggplant, tahini, roasted red peppers, garlic, and sea salt for a combo that provides various vitamins and antioxidants our bodies need, Hill says. "Each ingredient is a whole food, and there are no artificial preservatives," she says. This creamy eggplant-based dip is low in fat and pairs nicely with whole-grain pita and cut vegetables, but you can also dollop it atop a fresh salad or baked potato for some added texture and flavor.
Best: Tribe Red Pepper Feta Dip
If you're a die-hard fan of feta, you'll drool over this red pepper dip. It's made with briny feta along with Greek yogurt, roasted red peppers, and a bunch of aromatics including onion and lemon peel for a zingy dip option that pairs well with a homemade charcuterie board or over whole-grain pasta. This dip also contains olive oil, "a known healthier oil option, providing anti-inflammatory omega-3s," Hill says. We also love that it contains a bit of satiating protein, with 2 grams per 2-tablespoon serving.
Best: Boar's Head Tzatziki Greek Yogurt Dip
This creamy tzatziki makes for a great topping on gyros or dip for whole-grain crackers and cut vegetables. "Greek yogurt is this dip's first ingredient and is followed up by other whole-food ingredients like cucumbers, garlic, and dill," Hill says. "It is full of live active cultures to promote good gut health and contains no artificial preservatives." Each 2-tablespoon serving contains just 30 calories and a gram of protein, making for a calorie-conscious dip that doesn't compromise on flavor.
The 5 Unhealthiest Dips
Worst: Hidden Valley French Onion Ranch Dip
Hidden Valley's mission might be to get us to eat more veggies, but this dip isn't doing us any favors in the nutrition department. "With a whopping 110 calories for just two tablespoons, this is one of the highest-calorie dips on this list, so enjoy this one sparingly if you're watching your weight," Moody says. This French onion ranch condiment also contains a staggering 11 grams of fat for just two tablespoons, so if you're dipping into more than that serving, expect to take in a lot more fat. "Plus, it contains added sugar as its third ingredient and no significant amount of protein, so don't expect to feel full and satisfied even after multiple servings," Moody tells us.
Worst: Tostitos Creamy Spinach Dip
We can't deny it: This dip sparks the nostalgia and rockets us way back to childhood movie nights. Still, its nutritional profile isn't as positive as the memories. "Though spinach is presented as being the dominant feature of this dip, the dip only contains 1 gram of fiber per serving," Moody says. And that's not all: A 2-tablespoon serving also packs in 4 grams of fat. "Though the 4 grams of fat is coming from mostly unsaturated sources, you'll find yourself consuming much more fat than spinach if you plan on eating more than one serving (which we often do!)," Moody says.
Worst: Good & Gather Queso Blanco
Everyone loves a good queso blanco, but this rich dip is better left on grocery store shelves rather than in your pantry. "With both sodium citrate and sodium phosphate listed as ingredients, it's no surprise why this dip has nearly 300 milligrams of sodium per serving," Moody points out. "To put it into perspective, one 2-tablespoon serving is 12% of the daily value, while the maximum recommended amount per serving is 20%."
Worst: Heluva Good Bacon Horseradish Dip
This decadent dip is made with cream, bacon bits, and two types of sugar — a pick best enjoyed in moderation. "Out of the 4.5 grams of fat per serving, 3 grams are saturated fats," Moody says. The dip does include MSG for flavoring, presumably to help reduce the sodium content, but it doesn't look good that half of the calories are coming from bad fats." Remember, the goal is to limit animal-based saturated fat (like that in bacon) for better heart health.
Worst: Tostitos Cheesy Enchilada Dip
This popular cheesy dip gets some points for including a health-promoting food like black beans and is relatively low in calories. However, despite the low-calorie count, this dip has just as much sodium as a serving of salted potato chips, Moody says. "It also contains two different artificial yellow colors, presumably to give it a more cheesy look." The high sodium plus artificial dyes combo makes this dip better left on supermarket shelves.