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10 Popular Dips That Use the Lowest Quality Ingredients

Skip these unhealthy dips and find something with fewer additives, or make your own at home.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Having a jar or two of your favorite dips on hand is always helpful whether you're planning a get-together and need a quick, easy appetizer, or you just want to be prepared for when the munchies hit. You can always make your own dips at home, but you can easily find jars of Queso dip, salsa, French onion dip, ranch, or dessert dips at the store to make your life a lot easier. Unfortunately, many of these store-bought dips are considered unhealthy and are made with ultra-processed, low-quality ingredients.

Companies often have to use excess sodium and artificial preservatives and additives to make dips that will taste good and last a long time on the grocery store shelf. Some of the lower-quality dips have the following qualities:

  • High in sodium: The recommended daily maximum of sodium is 2,300 milligrams, and some of these dips contain between 300-500 milligrams in a small serving size. The service size of all of these dips is only two tablespoons, so it's all too easy to go beyond the recommended serving and consume too much sodium in one sitting. Consistently high levels of sodium in the diet are linked to higher blood pressure and potential heart complications.
  • High in saturated fat: A few of the store-bought dips on our list contain a couple of grams of saturated fat per serving, and the recommended daily max is only around 13 grams. And similar to the high levels of sodium, it's all too easy to go overboard when the serving sizes are small.
  • Contains additives and preservatives: Some of the common additives found in store-bought dips are sodium phosphate, caramel coloring, and artificial dyes like Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. These additives have all been linked to potential health risks, which we will get into in more detail later on.

Read on to learn about 10 store-bought dips that contain low-quality ingredients, and for more healthy grocery tips, check out these 10 Healthiest Breads at the Grocery Store, According to Dietitians.

Cheese Whiz Dip

Cheez Whiz
My Food and Family
Per serving (2 tbsp): 80 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 3 g protein

There's nothing great about Kraft's Cheez Whiz Dip. Even though it's known as "The Original Cheese Dip", it may be time to move on to better and healthier things.

"Cheez Whiz Dip is considered one of the least healthy processed dips for several critical reasons," says Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD. "First, it contains industrial caramel coloring, produced through chemical reactions involving ammonia and sulfites at high temperatures and pressures. These processes result in the formation of 4-methylimidazole, a compound linked to cancer in laboratory animal studies." Sabat adds, "This is why California now requires foods containing caramel color to carry potential cancer-causing agent labels."

Beyond its use of caramel coloring, Cheez Whiz Dip also contains 440 milligrams of sodium in each two-tablespoon serving, which is extremely high for such a small serving size.

"For those aiming for a healthier diet, it's advisable to choose dips with simpler, more natural ingredients and fewer artificial additives to minimize potential health risks," says Sabat.

 10 Old-Fashioned Dips Made With Healthier Ingredients

Dean's French Onion with Bacon Dip

Dean's French Onion with Bacon Dip
Per serving (2 tbsp): 60 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 1 g protein

Another store-bought dip you may want to steer clear of is French Onion Dip with Bacon from Dean's.

"Dean's Dip raises significant health concerns due to its composition," says Sabat. "The presence of potassium sorbate, used as a mold inhibitor, has been linked with possible mutagenic effects on DNA in some studies, raising potential health concerns."

The ingredients list for this dip is excruciatingly long, and Sabat adds that specifically, "The inclusion of cheap artificial dyes, known for their potential association with hyperactivity in children, cancer, and allergic reactions, is a major drawback and that these additives can negatively impact both overall health and well-being, particularly for individuals with sensitivities."

Marzetti Ranch Veggie Dip

Marzetti Ranch Dip
Per serving (2 tbsp): 80 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

According to Sabat, "Marzetti's Veggie Dips also "raise significant health concerns due to their composition."

Take their Marzetti Ranch Veggie Dip, for example. Right off the bat, you can see that in a small serving size of only two tablespoons, you're still getting 2.5 grams of saturated fat, which is already 19% of your recommended daily limit as set by the American Heart Association. Consuming too much saturated fat consistently over time can lead to various heart complications.

Another concerning component of these dips is that they're marketed as containing "real ingredients," which may lead customers to believe they're actually full of vegetables. Despite their marketing, Marzetti's Veggie Dips contain a few concerning ingredients, with one major one being sodium phosphate.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says there is a "moderate" concern for the consumption of sodium phosphate based on evidence that has linked this preservative to increased risks of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and coronary artery disease.

 10 Unhealthiest Store-Bought Cookie Doughs To Avoid

Chick-fil-A Sauce

Chick-fil-A sauce bottle
Per serving (2 tbsp): 160 calories, 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (0 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 0 g protein

Fans of Chick-fil-A sauce most likely know by now that they can buy a bottle at their local grocery store, but this bottle isn't the healthiest choice for a number of reasons, says Sabat.

"First, it contains added sugars, with about 1.5 teaspoons per serving [7 grams], contributing to excessive sugar intake, which is linked to various health issues like obesity and diabetes," explains Sabat.

She then adds that this popular sauce also "includes caramel coloring, which, in some cases, can contain 4-methylimidazole, a compound associated with cancer risk."

These factors don't mean you have to stay away from this sauce forever, but keep these things in mind and try only consuming them now and then.

 The Unhealthiest Chips, According to Dietitians

Tostitos Salsa Con Queso

Tostitos Salsa Con Queso
Per serving (2 tbsp): 40 calories, 2.4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

Another dip with less-than-desirable ingredients is the original Salsa Con Queso from Tostitos.

For starters, this store-bought dip uses artificial colors Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, which the Center for Science in the Public Interest says should not be allowed in foods because of their potential risks and complete lack of nutritional value.

In addition to these artificial colors, this Salsa Con Queso dip also contains sodium phosphate—an additive linked to potential health complications. For example, some research shows that there is a link between higher levels of sodium phosphate in the body and a greater risk of vascular damage.

Ricos Nachos Party Pak

ricos nachos dip
Per serving: 110 calories, 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 1 g protein

The Nachos Party Pak from Ricos is an easy and convenient treat for when you need something on the go, in the office, or to pack in your child's lunch, because this cheese dip comes in a portion-controlled cup with its own chips. However, there's nothing great about the ingredients in this store-bought dip.

For starters, you're getting a whopping 830 milligrams of sodium in one serving, which is 36% of your daily value in just one snack. But beyond its high sodium content, Ricos Party Pak contains sodium phosphate, an ingredient we now know can pose potential health issues.

Great Value French Onion Dip

Great Value French Onion Dip
Per serving (2 tbsp): 60 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

Great Value's French Onion Dip may offer a cheaper alternative to some other options, but the ingredient list is long and full of potentially risky additives.

This French onion dip contains sodium phosphate like many of the other dips on our list, but it also consists of a thickening additive called carrageenan, which is found in many ice cream, milk, and non-dairy milk products.

The verdict on whether there is a risk in consuming carrageenan is still undecided and the topic of much debate, but there is some existing evidence that it may have the potential to cause gastrointestinal issues or contribute to intestinal inflammation.

 The 15 Unhealthiest Sodas—Ranked By Sugar Content

Marzetti Caramel Dip

Marzetti caramel dip
Per serving (2 tbsp): 140 calories, 4.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 75 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (0 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 0 g protein

The main culprit behind what puts this Caramel Dip from Marzetti on our list is the sugar—which exists in three different forms on the ingredient list (sugar, invert sugar, and corn syrup).

In just two tablespoons of caramel dip, you're getting 18 grams of added sugar, which is around 75% of the 24-gram daily value for women and 50% of the 36-gram daily value for men.

Tostitos Avocado Salsa

Tostitos Avocado Salsa
Per serving (2 tbsp): 45 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), <1 g protein

The Avocado Salsa from Tostitos may sound healthy and full of vegetables, but you'd be way better off making your own guacamole if you want to avoid something that is highly processed.

There are technically real avocados in this jar, but there are also three different types of artificial colors: Yellow 5, Blue 1, and Red 40. All three of these colorings have been linked to possible hypersensitivity reactions, while Red 40 and Yellow 5 are also associated as being possible carcinogens.

 50 Healthiest Weight Loss Snacks on Grocery Shelves

Kraft Old English Spread

kraft old english spread
Per serving (2 tbsp): 90 calories, 7 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 520 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 5 g protein

Kraft's Old English Spread is a classic spreadable cheese, and many people use this spread to make their own creamy dip recipes. Unfortunately, one of the components that makes this cheese spread so delicious is its high levels of sodium, with almost 23% of your daily value in just two tablespoons.

On top of that, you're also consuming sodium phosphate, an additive we now know has been linked to potentially adverse health effects.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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