Dietitian Katrina Pace takes the guesswork out of picking dips for your summer snacks.
As a sandwich filling, salad dressing or with crackers or vege sticks, dips and spreads can be a versatile addition to our summer picnics and barbecues.
Every year, the range of dips and spreads seems to increase. Hummus is a great way to get extra fibre in our day and increase our intake of legumes. And having vege sticks with dips is a nice way to encourage those who might otherwise avoid vegetables. Choosing a dip with extra vegetables, such as pumpkin, beetroot or spinach, can also add to our daily vege intake. However, some dips can also hide more saturated fat or sodium than we’d expect, so it does pay to read the labels.
The dips and spreads we looked at contained from 600kJ per 100g up to a massive 2380kJ per 100g. Depending on how much and how often you’re eating dips, and whether you are watching your energy intake, it may pay to check the label to see how much energy you’re getting. Creamy and cheesebased dips were generally higher in both energy and saturated fats.
Too much saturated fat increases our risk of heart disease as well as increasing the amount of energy in our dip. We found dips containing from 0.6g to 11g saturated fat per 100g.
We recommend choosing dips that contain 3g or less saturated fat per 100g.
Dips and spreads are a processed food and can be a source of hidden sodium in our diet. Sodium can increase our blood pressure, which can increase our risk of heart problems. To reduce these risks, it’s recommended adults have no more than 2000mg sodium each day.
We recommend choosing dips that contain 400mg or less sodium per 100g, but if this is too restrictive, aim for 500mg or less per 100g.
You may not think it, but dips can be high risk for food poisoning. Always keep dips chilled and, if you’ve been out for a picnic and they’ve warmed up, discard any leftovers. Keep an eye on the ‘use by’ date. Pregnant women and people with lowered immunity are advised to avoid hummus and other dips made with tahini.
How to choose
Use these criteria to compare dips and spreads
Some different spreads we found:
Any product examples given here were correct at time of publication. However, remember to check the ingredients and nutrition information every so often, as these can change over time.
Kumara & Pumpkin Hummus
Cost $3.00 per 175g pottle
Per 100g: 924kJ, 1.3g saturated fat, 290mg sodium,
Creamy and smooth, with a strong kumara flavour
with Roasted Carrot & Honey
Cost $2.99 per 175g pottle
Per 100g: 1040kJ, 1.3g saturated fat, 385mg sodium,
Can really taste the carrots
Balsamic Beetroot Feta & Cashews
Cost $4.00 per 150g pottle
Per 100g: 1060kJ, 2.8g saturated fat, 260mg sodium,
Delicious. Can really taste the balsamic vinegar
Cost $2.69 per 200g pottle
Per 100g: 741kJ, 0.6g saturated fat, 319mg sodium,
Very creamy. Great pumpkin flavour
Cost $5.99 per 500g pottle
Per 100g: 975kJ, 1.9g saturated fat, 448mg sodium,
Thick with a great taste
with Roasted Cashews & Cumin
Cost $3.69 per 200g pottle
Per 100g: 860kJ, 1.7g saturated fat, 485mg sodium,
Lovely blend of flavours
Cost $3.99 per 220g pottle
Per 100g: 1100kJ, 2.3g saturated fat, 484mg sodium,
Our favourite. An authentic, traditional-tasting hummus
Jalapeno & Lime
Cost $3.69 per 200g pottle
Per 100g: 988kJ, 1.8g saturated fat, 618mg sodium,
Tasty with a mild spice flavour