Can Pregnant Women Eat Ranch Dressing? Is it Safe?

Ranch is an awesome, versatile dressing that can be used in almost anything. It makes for an amazing dip for chicken wings and vegetable sticks and a great topper for burgers, pizza, and even mashed potatoes. But can you eat ranch while pregnant – are there any risks to it?

While ranch dressing is safe for pregnant women, it’s certainly not healthy! Commercially-available ranch dressing isn’t nutritious and is often loaded with fat, sodium, and calories.

Too much ranch dressing can put your heart health at risk – even when drizzling it on a healthy salad. Things only get worse when you pair them up with unhealthy junk foods!

Lastly, make sure your ranch dressing has been fully pasteurized first. This won’t be a problem with store-bought ranch, but if you’re snacking with homemade dressing it might be an issue. That said, pregnant women are free to enjoy ranch dressing (in moderation).

While ranch dressing is usually safe for pregnant women, there are a couple of things that may go wrong. Bear them in mind before digging in to avoid potential pregnancy complications.

Ranch Dressing While Pregnant (Your Safety Checklist)

Keep the Ingredients in Mind

ranch dressing

While pregnant women can eat ranch dressing, remember that “not being unsafe” does not equate to food being healthy or otherwise nourishing. For starters, lots of commercial ranch dressing uses generous helpings of preservatives. These may interfere with your baby’s growth, neurological development, hormone production, or otherwise complicate your pregnancy.

Furthermore, if you’re considering adding olives to your ranch dressing or salad, you’ll be pleased to know that olives are generally safe for pregnant women to eat. They are a good source of healthy fats, fiber, and important nutrients like vitamin E and iron. However, due to their high sodium content, it’s best to consume them in moderation to avoid contributing to potential blood pressure issues.

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Ranch dressing also has a ton of refined sugar, which can lead to high blood pressure. A pregnant woman’s body is already dealing with the fetus’ nutritional demands, and this increase in blood pressure puts extra strain on her heart and kidneys. Add in the abundance of saturated fat raising bad cholesterol, and a mother’s cardiovascular health may end up in serious jeopardy.

This often happens with people with pre-existing conditions – or those who have eaten excessive amounts of ranch dressing. While it’s not healthy, it’s still safe to enjoy in moderation.

It’s just very easy to get carried away, as ranch is a dressing or dip rather than a snack. Portion control just requires you to be extra mindful, so be vigilant about keeping yourself in check.

Always look the ingredients up, along with their expected serving size, just to be safe. Some brands try to go under the radar by shrinking their recommended serving size, making the concentration of unhealthy components less problematic-looking for people who only skimmed the label. 

Don’t Forget What You’re Pairing them With

pizza with ranch dressing

Even though pregnant women can eat ranch dressing, this privilege won’t extend to a lot of the other food they’re popularly combined with – pizza, burgers, buffalo wings, and chips, for starters!

Since ranch dressing isn’t very healthy, we’d strongly recommend you pair it up with more nutritious food options to compensate. Put it on a nice salad, rather than slathering it over a pizza! Turn in your bag of loaded chips for a platter of crunchy carrot sticks or sliced cucumbers instead!

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To mitigate the chance of overindulging, portion your serving of ranch dressing first. Prepare only as much as you’re ready to eat in one sitting – put it aside in a little cup or saucer. Now, you can enjoy it to your heart’s content… so long as you resist the urge to get a refill.

Ensure It’s Been Pasteurized

Ranch dressing ingredients vary a lot, but they usually involve a base of buttermilk, sour cream, or mayonnaise. This base ingredient needs to be pasteurized, as they all have an ingredient (either milk or raw egg yolks) that’s easy for Salmonella bacteria to contaminate.

Thankfully, it’s usually not a problem for most commercial brands of ranch dressing – most of which have been fully pasteurized to conform to the health and safety regulations of the FDA.

Still, it’s best to make it a habit to check first. Go over the ingredients list when buying ranch dressing – chances are you’ll see the product’s pasteurization status right there on the label.

For homemade or farmer’s market ranch dressing purchases, this likely won’t be the case. Steer clear of these types of “raw” ranch dressing, since their unpasteurized status puts you and your baby at greater risk of food poisoning. If you really, really want to enjoy this kind of ranch dressing, it’d be best to wait until your pregnancy term has fully wrapped up. 

Final Thoughts

Ranch dressing is safe for pregnant women to eat in moderation, but it’s far from healthy. Commercial brands of ranch dressing often come with lots of sodium, saturated fat, refined sugar, and preservatives which will adversely affect the health of both you and your baby.

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If you want to enjoy ranch dressing, pair it up with healthy food and keep your portions down. Even if ranch dressing should be safe for most pregnant women, leave the final say to your doctor – they’ll know about your situation in depth, and want to ensure you have a successful pregnancy.

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