The Wall Street Journal published an article about Ranch dressing with some interesting facts:
- Americans consume salad dressing 38 times a year
- Ranch is consumed 15 out of 38 times, with Italian dressing a far second, being eaten just 6 times
- Hidden Valley, the company that invented Ranch Dressing in the 1950′s, sold $440 million worth of salad dressing last year.
- There are over 50 different varieties of Ranch Dressing available today, including vegan options.
This would all be wonderful if Ranch Dressing was a healthy option to pair up with your veggies. We’ll let you in on a “hidden secret” – it’s not!
People love ranch dressing because it is a combination of mayonnaise and buttermilk along with 3 strong flavors – sweet, salty, and umami (MSG).
From a caloric perspective, a serving of 2 tablespoons has 140 calories, which is what you would expect from an oil-based dressing. Our problem is the manipulation of our taste buds with a host of questionable ingredients:
Vegetable oil (Soybean oil and/or canola), water, egg yolk, sugar, salt, cultured nonfat buttermilk, natural flavors (milk,soy), less than 1% of: spices, 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 / Canola Oil – the use of oil in salads makes sense because it helps absorb vitamin A,D, E and K. However, soybean and canola are low quality, GMO oils.
Water – Q: why add water to salad dressing as the second ingredient? If you were preparing at home, you would NEVER add water, just buttermilk. A: water is cheap!
Sugar – helps cut the acidity of a product. There’s not too much here, according to the nutrition facts panel, just 1/4 of a teaspoon.
Salt - the sodium content here is 260mg or about 11% of your daily maximum. If you don’t add any other salt to your veggies, then this works out OK because your sodium to calorie ratio will be around 1.
Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk – buttermilk can be awesome in a dressing, too bad it is present in tiny amounts here. Since it is listed after the 1/4 tsp of sugar, that means there is less than 1/4 tsp of buttemilk here.
Natural Flavors (Milk, Soy) – OK, it’s a natural flavor, and it’s based on soy and milk. What is it?
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. Read more about it here.
Xanthan Gum (E415) – an emulsifier to keep oil and water from separating. It also 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. It’s usually derived from (GMO) corn.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (E621) – used as an enhancer to create the umami flavor. In the past MSG was derived from wheat gluten, but now it is mostly made from bacterial fermentation. Some people are highly sensitive to MSG and there have been calls to list warnings on products that contain it.
Artificial Flavors - Yikes. This doesn’t look too promising. Wish they’d tell us what they’re putting in our food.
Disodium Phosphate - an additive used as an emulsifier. It also increases shelf life.
Sorbic Acid (E200) – antimicrobial agents often used as preservatives. Prevents the growth of mold, yeast and fungi. It is made from the fruit of the European Mountain-ash (Sorbus aucuparia ).
Calcium Disodium EDTA - A preservative with a mildly salty taste. Unfortunately, it may cause kidney damage, and blood in urine.
Disodium Inosinate (E631) and Disodium Guanylate (E627) - these are food additives used as flavor enhancers and to reduce the sodium content. They are often used in conjunction with MSG. They are produced from dried fish/seaweed. Should be avoided by people with gout and asthmatics.
Are you a ranch dressing fan? Do you make your own?