Dips to pick
Salsa (per 2 tablespoons: 6 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g protein, 1 g fiber)
Packed with tomatoes, peppers, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and spices, salsa is loaded with nutrients and flavor – and for minimal calories. Tomatoes add a dose of cancer-fighting lycopene, while the capsaicin in jalapeños revs metabolism and helps improve cardiovascular health. Scientists have also recently isolated the compound dodecenal in cilantro, which has been found to kill Salmonella strains as twice as effectively as a common antibiotic. Add kick, and more nutrients, to your salsa with black beans, mango, and avocado cubes.
Hummus (per 2 tablespoons: 50 calories, 2 g fat, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber)
A chickpea-based spread that hails from the Middle East, hummus is a good source of both protein and fiber, making it a snack with staying power. It is high in iron, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B6, and tahini (a blend of sesame seeds) and olive oil add monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. If your team loses on Super Bowl Sunday, have an extra serving of hummus: Israeli researchers believe the high tryptophan content of chickpeas may increase the amount of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, thereby alleviating depression.
Tzatziki (per 2 tablespoons: 50 calories, 1.7 g fat, 5.2 g protein, 0.2 g fiber)
Tzatziki is a traditional Greek dip made with yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, and garlic. Often served with greasy, fatty gyro and souvlaki dishes, it offers a tangy, refreshing taste, but you can also serve it with fresh vegetables. Yogurt provides muscle-building protein as well as probiotics to improve digestion, and cucumbers offer a surprising amount of antioxidants, including quercetin, luteolin, and kaempferol. Whip up your tzatziki with nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to squeeze out more protein and less saturated fat.
Guacamole (per 2 tablespoons: 50 calories, 4.5 g fat, 0.6 g protein, 1.5 g fiber)
Although it gets a bad rap for being high in fat and calories, guacamole is incredibly nutrient-dense. Avocados contain high amounts of monounsaturated fats, which reduce the risk of heart disease and improve insulin sensitivity. Other studies have found that avocados, while not touted as a superfruit, are comparatively high in antioxidants. Add chopped tomato and bell pepper to your guac: the fats in avocados increase the absorption of beta-carotene and lycopene up to 400%.
Dips to Skip
Spinach and Artichoke Dip (per 2 tablespoons: 120 calories, 12 g fat, 1.2 g protein, 0 g fiber)
This virtuous-sounding dip is misleading; instead of a base of vegetables, most recipes call for huge amounts of cream cheese, mayonnaise, a medley of melted cheeses, and sour cream. The spinach and artichoke skillet even manages to pack in 1610 calories and 103 grams of fat! If your Super Bowl Sunday won’t be the same without it, whip up a lightened-up version that adds creaminess with white beans and flavor with capers and lemon juice, like this version from Health Magazine.
Queso (per 2 tablespoons: 90 calories, 70 g fat, 3 g protein, 0 g fiber)
A staple of Tex-Mex cuisine, queso is a creamy dip made primarily of cheese, often with tomatoes, beans, or peppers added for flavor. At best, queso is simply high in calories and fat; at worst, the jarred versions are filled with additives, preservatives, and trans fats. Skip the queso altogether; if you’re craving a creamy dip, pick one based off blended beans, and if you’re looking for cheese, nosh on a few squares of sharp cheddar.
Crab Dip (per 2 tablespoons: 124 calories, 10 g fat, 6 g protein, 0 g fiber)
With lean seafood as an ingredient, this dip may sound healthy; but like spinach and artichoke dip, the crab only plays a supporting role to cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheese, and sour cream. Pick five large shrimp with one tablespoon of cocktail sauce to save 74 calories and knock off 10 grams of fat for the same succulent seafood taste.
Seven-Layer Dip (per 2 tablespoons: 80 calories, 6 g fat, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber)
This layered dip is dangerous for two reasons: with layer upon layer of dip, you don’t exactly know what you’re putting on your chip, and, because of those layers, each chip is piled precariously high with each flavorful layer, making for one high-calorie bite. The dish is, after all, layer after layer of fat (and it’s not the good kind like in guacamole): fatty cheese, greasy beef, refried beans, sour cream…If you’re after a dip with Mexican flare, choose a black bean dip with chopped tomato and cilantro. Black beans contain protein and fiber and help regulate blood sugar, keeping you satisfied until half time.