Inside the Label: Ranch Dressing

We wrote about the huge US salad dressing industry in a previous post. Today we’ll look inside the label of one of the most popular – Hidden Valley The Original Ranch.

This dressing comes with some history. In the late 50′s, Steve and Gayle Henson would host guests at their dude ranch in southern California. They concocted a special salad dressing that was served to the guests, and the rest is history. Hidden Valley is now a ranch dressing empire. it is owned by Clorox (!?) of cleaning detergent fame.

Let’s take a peek inside the dressing, shall we?

What you need to know:

Here’s the nutrition panel:
A serving is 2 tablespoons, although we’ve yet to see someone measure out the exact amount. Usually people just drown the salad directly from the bottle. But for the sake of our analysis, we’ll assume you’re very precise.

For starters, a serving will cost you 140 calories, 130 of them from fat! In fact, there are 14 grams of fat (22% of the maximum daily allowance) and 2.5 of those are saturated fats. Sat fats are what drive up bad cholesterol levels in our blood. A small amount of cholesterol is also present (10g / 3% DV).

On the sodium front, 260 mg, or 11% of the daily allowance, is not great, but definitely not the worst we’ve seen.

On the bright side, there is only 1 gram of sugar in here. Which means it’s doing just one thing – rounding the acidic tartness of the other ingredients, not turning the dressing into salad candy.

Here is the ingredient list, 21 strong:

Soybean Oil, Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors (Soy), Spices. Less than 1% of Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate, Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA as Preservatives, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate.

Soybean Oil – oil is actually a healthy idea to add to a salad dressing because it help the body absorb some vitamins better.

Water – why add water to salad dressing? If you were preparing at home, you would NEVER add water. It would be buttermilk.

Egg Yolk – Is it raw or cooked? If raw, is it at least pasteurized? Pregnant women stress about this kind of stuff, dudes!

Sugar – helps cut the acidity of a product.

Salt - nothing smart to say here…

Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk – a good source of saturated fat.

Natural Flavors (Soy) – OK, it’s a natural flavor, and it’s based on soy. what is it?

Spices – names please, names.

Dried Garlic, Dried Onion – yes, we can spot a few specks when using our magnifying glasses.

Vinegar – A natural product. Literally means sour wine.

phosphoric acid (E338) -An artificial additive that provides a tangy taste for a much cheaper price than lemons. It is also used in soft drinks. Some studies have linked it to lowering bone density.

Xanthan Gum (E415) – increases the viscosity of a liquid.

Modified Food Starch – an additive used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, or an emulsifier. In salad dressing it behaves as an emulsifier to keep oil and water from separating.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (E621) – used as a flavor enhancer. In the past was derived from wheat gluten, but now it is mostly made from bacterial fermentation. Some people are sensitive to MSG.

Artificial Flavors - Yikes. This doesn’t look too promising. Wish they’d tell us what they’re putting in our food.

Disodium Phosphate - additive used as an emulsifier.  Also increases shelf life.

Sorbic Acid (E200) – antimicrobial agents often used as preservatives. Prevents the growth of mold, yeast and fungi. Derived from the fruit of the European Mountain-ash (Sorbus aucuparia )

Calcium Disodium EDTA - A preservative with a mildly salty taste.  May cause kidney damage, and blood in urine.

Disodium Inosinate (E631) and Disodium Guanylate (E627) - a food additive used as a flavor enhancer in order to lessen salt content. It is produced from dried fish/seaweed. Used in conjunction with MSG. Not safe for babies under 12 weeks, and should generally be avoided by asthmatics and people with gout.

What to do at the supermarket:

This seems like one to avoid. Too many ingredients keeping together what should be a simple dressing, that even in it original form was probably not one of the most slimming items on the menu.

If you love the flavor, try out an easy recipe to make by yourself.

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  • Jill

    Just a question – buttermilk may have saturated fat, but non-fat buttermilk? Is there really saturated fat in there?

    • staff

      Buttermilk is the liquid left over after churning butter, i.e. milk from butter, hence buttermilk.
      It is actually less fatty than sweet milk.
      We are not aware of non-fat buttermilk; supermarkets usually sell reduced fat buttermilk with 2.5-3.5 grams of fat and 1.5-2.5 grams of saturated fat per cup.

  • Christopher12

    Land type. You must also consider finding a property with land that meets your needs. If you plan on ranching, then you need a tract of land suitable for ranching. If your interest is to do some recreational ranching the search is easier, but if you are interested in possibly raising wildlife for the purposes of hunting, then you should consider property that is “wild” with more natural vegetation suitable to the type of wildlife you plan to support.

  • Troy Boudreaux

    NEVER EVER buy salad dressing in a bottle! Soybean oil (and also popular Canola oil) are high in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. You would be much better off with the REAL milk fat of home made Ranch over these rancid polyunsaturated fats.

  • actual chef

    So this moron has never made an emulsion salad dressing in his life. Water WOULD be used at home for the emulsion as would pastuerized egg yolks per FDA regs. Spices and natural flavors indicate proprietary ingredients that even this hypochondriac couldnt be harmed by. Naming them would defeat the purpose of buying the dressing instead of making it yourself.

  • O͛̃͒́̈́̑̾̂̓͌̐͝rion Nebulas

    spices (commonly chives, parsley, and dill), and spices (commonlyblack pepper, paprika, and ground mustard seed)

  • Deborah Cervantes

    I’ve read that flavors, both natural and artificial may come from things we would rather not be aware of because they’re very unappetizing, such as tree bark and beetles.

  • Deborah Cervantes

    “Salt – nothing smart to say here”? Salt raises your blood pressure. It can also lead to gout. It causes you to retain water, so if you’re looking puffy, consider your total salt intake. 2T of ranch dressing won’t put you in the hospital, but we should be aware of everything we consume because it all adds up at the end of the day. It’s like throwing your spare change into a jar each day – pretty soon, you can’t lift the jar.

  • Ann

    The comments on the ingredients need to be updated to 2016. Saturated fat does NOT raise cholesterol levels, soy is no longer considered good for most people unless it’s fermented, MSG is a bad thing however it’s made, and good salts do not raise your blood pressure – only table salt. That’s only the obvious comments.