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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Ranch dressing rules

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

For better or worse, ranch dressing is the most popular salad dressing in America, having overtaken Italian dressing as our dressing of choice, both at the store and at restaurants.

Ranch, in its low-fat iteration, is also touted as a viable part of a healthful school lunch, at least when it's served with fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli or peppers.

But ranch is quite high in sodium -- something we're all supposed to be cutting back on, as per the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. And the lower its fat content, the higher its sodium.

I am not a big fan of ranch (and I can't stand the taste of reduced-fat varieties). But my 14-year-old son is. And he is of the ilk -- a large and growing ilk, apparently -- that puts the stuff not just on salad (if only!) but on burgers and pizza and you name it.

I am not thrilled about that. But as a parent, there are just so many battles you can fight at once. On the bright side, my 17-year-old daughter just told me that she's realized she doesn't like salad dressing at all; she would rather eat hers plain. I prefer to drizzle oil and vinegar over mine, or to make a quick vinaigrette, but I'll admit I keep a bottle of store-bought "light" balsamic vinaigrette on hand because it has so many fewer calories than my home-made dressing. Again, though, there's all that sodium.

What's the dressing situation in your household? Do you embrace ranch, shun it or something in between? What else do you top your salad with?

Please jump in and share your ranch tales! And take a moment to vote in today's poll!

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | March 1, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Dietary Guidelines, Family Health, Nutrition and Fitness, Obesity, School Nutrition, Teens  
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I fall into the camp of I love it, but haven't had it in years because it's so bad for me.

Posted by: mdem929 | March 1, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

My favorite salad dressing by far is Gazebo Room Lite Greek. I don't like sweet dressings and this type has no sugar at all, just oil, vinegar, water, and spices. It can't be beaten as far as I'm concerned. Check it out.

Posted by: aspenhallinn | March 1, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I like it for dipping, even the low-fat varieties, though I usually get something either healthier (maybe yogurt-based) or more interesting (like southwestern ranch). I avoid premixed dressings because even the "healthy" ones usually have unnecessary high-fructose corn syrup and/or canola oil instead of olive oil. (I know canola is considered OK -- I just prefer the taste of olive.) I just put balsamic and olive oil on salads; sometimes I mix them into a vinaigrette, if I get around to it.

Posted by: Janine1 | March 1, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Ranch works for kids (and also w/ fries....mmmmmm), but my preference is Bleu Cheese (Marie's, preferably).

Posted by: SamFelis | March 1, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Then author fell for the cholesterol hoax, that based on a faulty 1953 study in Framingham MA, which concluded that dietary saturated fats CAUSED the elevated cholesterol, and higher heart disease in that population.

Saturated fats are healthgiving and heart protective! Arterial narrowing is NOT caused by saturated fats, but by insufficient vitamins B6, B12,and folates, (high homocysteine); insufficient anti-oxidants, vitamins C, E, A, D3, selenium, l-cysteine etc (high lipo-protein alpha, LDL); and a high intake of carbohydrates, especially sugars, (raise causative triglycerides).

Cream, butter, and full fat dairy, contain the omegas in perfect proportion, arichidonic acid, short and medium chain fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acids Also present are selenium, iodine, manganese, zinc, chromium, lecithin and vitamins D3, A, B2 and B12.

Cream, (and butter etc.), synthesise vitamin B6 through the friendly intestinal bacteria. B6 lowers causative homocysteine. Malhotra S L Dr et al Lancet 1975.

Plant-based omega-3 fats do not provide the same benefits as animal-based, because most of us can’t convert the alpha linolenic acid, in plant-based fats to the appropriate amount of docosahexaenoic acid, that is required.

Egg yolks contain selenium and l-cysteine, vitamin D3, A, and the B complex, powerful anti-oxidants that lower heart disease-causing lipo-protein alpha. Cayley and Hammond. Drs. Am. Canc. Soc. 1979. Egg yolks are allso high in the brain/nervous system nutrients, phosphotydil serine and choline. To get these nutrients undamaged, the yolks should be eaten raw, (the shells first well washed, and whites cooked).

Elevated cholesterol levels are caused by insuficient B vitamins, lack of exercise and smoking. There is an overlap of heart disease causes and elevated cholesterol causes, but dietary cholesterol is NOT in this picture.

Here is the expose of the hoax, now only perpetuated, at the expense of your health, to market fraudulent, useless, and highly toxic statin drugs, meaningless blood tests, and useless low, fat and low calorie foods.

Its not the fats the fatten, its the carbs. In human physiology, digested carbs first top-up muscle and liver glycogen stores. the rest rapidly converts to body fat in the cells mitochondria via the Krebs and citric acid cycles. Digested fats only slowly convert to energy molecules, not to body fat, in the liver.

Calories dont count! This is due to the various homeostasis mechanisms that exist in the body. The metabolic rate speeds or slows depending on what, when, and how much is eaten. One such mechanism, thermic effect,is bone structure dependent.

Commercial interests keep you 50 years behind on nutritional science.

Nutrition Profs. at Med schools start this misinfo, then the mainstream sprouts the same garbage

Posted by: TommyTCG | March 1, 2011 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I'd keep an eye on the daughter who "likes hers plain," particularly if fairly trivial weight issues have been a big deal in your household (which the history of this blog suggests). Sounds curiously like my sister who has battled anorexia for 15 years (since her late teen years). She also rhapsodizes over the foam at the top of fat-free lattes (lower calorie than the latte itself).

Of course, maybe she just doesn't like dressing, hard as that is for me to imagine!

Posted by: _wm_ | March 1, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I am an Australian reader who has never tasted ranch dressing - what is it? It sounds horrible. And in any case, what is wrong with a little quality olive oil and good vinegar (eg aged balsamic) on veggies or salad? Very tasty, healthy and far fewer kilojoules. My kids have never refused veggies or salad dressed this way! And none of them are overweight!

Posted by: OzReader1 | March 8, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

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