Is Italian Dressing Healthy? Calories, Nutrition and More

LIVESTRONG.com may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Italian dressing is high in nutritious fats, but it can also have a lot of sodium.
Image Credit: BURCU ATALAY TANKUT/Moment/GettyImages

Classic Italian salad dressing is made of vegetable oil and vinegar, with other seasonings and flavorings such as honey and mustard.

Advertisement

Video of the Day

Italian dressing is often considered a healthy option when compared with creamy dressings because it's lower in calories and fat. But because it can be high in sodium and the calories quickly add up if you use more than the serving size, it's still important to watch the amount you eat.

Italian Dressing Nutrition

The nutrition label on most salad dressings indicates that one serving equals 2 tablespoons. According to the USDA, a 2-tablespoon serving of Italian dressing will give you about:

Advertisement

  • Calories​:​ 120
  • ​​Total fat​:​ 13 g
    • ​​Saturated fat:​ 2 g
    • ​​Trans fat​:​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol​:​ 0 mg
  • ​​Sodium​:​ 250 mg
  • ​Total carbs​:​ 1 g
    • ​Dietary fiber​:​ 0 g
    • ​Sugar​:​ 1 g
  • ​Protein​:​ 0 g

You won't get many nutrients from any salad dressing, but most Italian dressings (with the exception of fat-free varieties) are made with vegetable oils like olive oil and canola oil. These types of oils are high in unsaturated fats, which most people don't eat enough of, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Advertisement

In fact, replacing saturated fats with more unsaturated fats has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

You'll also find varieties like reduced-fat, salt-free and fat-free Italian dressing, which often means they have fewer calories.

Italian Dressing Macros

  • ​​Total fat​:​ A 2-tablespoon serving of Italian dressing has 13 grams of total fat, which includes 2 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat.
  • ​​Carbohydrates​:​ A 2-tablespoon serving of Italian dressing has 1 gram of carbs, which includes 0 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar.
  • ​​Protein​:​ A 2-tablespoon serving of Italian dressing has 0 grams of protein.

Advertisement

Other Nutrients

Italian dressing is often high in sodium, which is a mineral and electrolyte, according to the University of Michigan Health. Sodium helps the body maintain fluid balance.

That being said, most Americans get too much sodium in their diet. Excess dietary sodium has been linked to a high risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, per the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Advertisement

If your Italian dressing has 250 milligrams of sodium, you're getting 11 percent of your recommended Daily Value (DV) in one serving. The USDA recommends that adults take in 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The Healthiest Italian Dressings

  • Organicville No-Salt-Added Italian Dressing ($2.69, Amazon.com)
  • Doc's Salt-Free All Natural Italian Dressing ($12.99, Amazon.com)
  • Walden Farms Sugar-Free Italian Dressing ($12.57, Amazon.com)

Dry Italian Dressing Mix Nutrition Facts

You can make a nutritious salad dressing that's low in calories using your own ingredients and a packet of dry Italian dressing mix. These packets have all the herbs and spices you'd find in a bottle of dressing, without the liquid.

Advertisement

According to the USDA, the nutrition info for a packet of Good Seasons Dry Italian Dressing mix is:

  • Calories​:​ 5
  • ​​Total fat​:​ 0 g
    • ​​Saturated fat:​ 0 g
    • ​​Trans fat​:​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol​:​ 0 mg
  • ​​Sodium​:​ 220 mg
  • ​Total carbs​:​ 1 g
    • ​Dietary fiber​:​ 0 g
    • ​Sugar​:​ 1 g
  • ​Protein​:​ 0 g

Advertisement

A single packet of dry dressing mix has eight servings. Each envelope of herbs and spices provides 5 calories and 220 milligrams of sodium, or 9 percent of the DV. The dry seasoning is not a source of fat, carbohydrates or protein.

A packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix is meant to be combined with 3 tablespoons of water, 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of oil to yield a zesty Italian dressing or marinade, per Kraft Foods. But, you can make your dressing lower in calories and fat by swapping the 1/2 cup of oil for 1/4 cup of oil and an extra 1/4 cup of water.

Advertisement

Other Ingredients and Allergens

Good Seasons Italian salad dressing and recipe mix is made with salt, sugar, garlic, onions, maltodextrin, sodium citrate, spice, red bell peppers, xanthan gum, citric acid, soy sauce and natural flavors, according to Kraft.

The label indicates that this product has wheat and soy in it, which are potential allergens.

Advertisement

references

Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...