Make the Healthy Switch to Low-sodium, Low-fat Dips This Holiday Season

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Dips: A Common Holiday Season Pitfall

If you are like most people, you attend several parties each holiday season. While the holiday season is filled with fun and friends, it also is filled with food. Unfortunately, while no one has ever suffered from having too much fun or too many friends, eating too much food, and especially the “wrong” kinds of food, can be hazardous to your good health. This article describes steps that you can take to make sure that you, and if you are in the habit of hosting your own holiday parties, your friends and family, can take to ensure that you do not fall prey to the most commonly served and worst health culprits of the holiday season: The Dips.

Think about it. Have you ever been to a dip-free holiday party? I doubt that I have. Dips are everywhere during the holiday season. While some dips are meant for dunking healthy foods, like carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, many are meant for coating potato chips, which are usually high in both salt and fat. No matter what kind of food you intend to dip, do yourself a favor and choose low-sodium, low-fat dips.

Making the Switch to Healthy Dips

The following is a list of common dip ingredients and a discussion of their healthier low-sodium, low-fat alternatives.

Cream Cheese. Many dips are cream cheese-based. Regular cream cheeses that are not low in sodium and fat typically contain about 100 milligrams of fat per every one ounce serving. (On average, one ounce of dip is consumed per every few chips that are dunked and eaten.) It therefore is wise to select a variety of cream cheese that is low in both sodium and fat, as these cream cheeses usually have about half as much fat and about one-third or less sodium that do regular cream cheeses. An even better alternative is a fat-free cream cheese that is also low in sodium. If you are so inclined and enjoy its taste, you also may wish to substitute a cottage cheese that is low in fat and sodium for cream cheese.

Sour Cream. Another popular dip ingredient is sour cream. Low-fat and low-sodium sour creams are available and many find them to be as tasty as their unhealthy counterparts. Alternatively, you may wish to forgo the sour cream in favor of fat-free Greek yogurt, which is low in sodium and, as an added bonus, rich in protein.

Mayonnaise. Some dips contain mayonnaise. Like with sour cream, not only are there mayonnaises that are low in both sodium and fat available, the better (and in my opinion, tastier) option is low-fat Greek yogurt.

Avocado. Few know that avocados are about 80% fat. An excellent, low calorie substitute for avocado is chayote squash, which has only a fraction of fat (and calories) of avocado.

Further, instead of making dips that contain the substitute ingredients described above, you may wish to make salsa, which is just about universally enjoyed by everyone. Most salsas contains foods such as tomatoes, mangoes, and peppers, that are naturally much lower in fat and sodium than are the common dip ingredients cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and avocado.

A Final Word of Advice

No matter whether you are hosting your own holiday party or you are bringing a dip to someone else’s, you should remember that proper food selection begins in the grocery store. Therefore, when it comes time to purchase the dip ingredients that you need, you should go to the grocery store on a full stomach and with the mindset that you will not deviate from your plan to buy only ingredients that are healthy alternatives to the fatty and salty products that are often used to make dips. It also helps to identify exactly the products that you will buy ahead of time (e.g., via Internet search of food companies’ web sites or on the advice of friends), so that when you get to the grocery store, you can quickly grab the ingredients that you need without much thought (or opportunity to change your mind).

Good luck with your “dipping” this coming holiday season!


National Heart, Lung And Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Low-Calorie, Low Fat Alternative Foods:

Reader’s Digest, Ingredient Swaps for Healthier Recipes: