Not all spinach dips are healthy, but you can improvise any dip recipe to make it more nutritious. A dip prepared with whole sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise or fatty oils may not be heart-healthy because of the fat content and high calorie count. Using a dip base of low fat or fat-free ingredients and fresh spinach gives you a nutritious spinach dip without compromising taste to serve as an appetizer or snack.
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A cup of spinach has only 7 calories and no fat. It provides your dip with 167 milligrams of potassium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and almost 1 milligram of iron for transporting oxygen through the blood. Spinach contains 2,831 international units of vitamin A in a cup, which is beneficial for healthy eyes. A cup of spinach also provides almost 145 micrograms of vitamin K, providing more than a full day’s recommended 90 to 120 micrograms. Your body uses vitamin K for blood clotting, and it may prevent hip fractures.
Dip Base Nutrients
Most dip bases include sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise. Using reduced fat ingredients makes a healthier dip. For instance, a cup of whole milk sour cream has 45 grams of fat, 444 calories and 253 milligrams of calcium, while fat-free sour cream has zero fat, 170 calories and 288 milligrams of calcium. Similarly, a cup of regular cream cheese has 80 grams of fat, 793 calories and 227 milligrams of calcium. Fat-free cream cheese eliminates fat, lowers calories to 241 and increases calcium. Using light mayonnaise also reduces fat and calories.
More Healthy Alternatives
If you want to add more protein to the spinach dip, you can substitute yogurt or hummus for the sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise. A cup of hummus adds almost 20 grams of protein to your dip, as well as 93 milligrams of calcium and 6 milligrams of iron. A cup of hummus contains 408 calories. On the other hand, a cup of plain, skim milk yogurt adds only 137 calories to your spinach dip and gives you 488 grams of calcium and 14 grams of protein. Another health benefit of using yogurt for your dip is the live probiotics that aid digestion and help your digestive tract absorb nutrients.
Serving spinach dip with sliced fresh vegetables, such as carrot sticks, celery stalks, green peppers, avocado and cucumbers are healthy alternatives to potato chips. Whole-wheat crackers or pita chips are fiber-rich complements to the dip.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements
- Harvard Medical School: Listing of Vitamins
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Spinach, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cream, Sour, Cultured
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Sour Cream, Fat Free
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Cream
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Cream, Fat Free
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Salad Dressing, Mayonnaise, Regular
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Salad Dressing, Mayonnaise, Low Calorie
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Hummus, Commercial
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Yogurt, Plain, Skim Milk
- Harvard Medical School: Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics