Can You Eat Ranch While Pregnant?

Can You Eat Ranch Dressing While Pregnant

Growing a little human in your belly is exhilarating, but it also often raises a lot of questions, especially when it comes to nutrition. You want to give your body and your growing child everything needed to thrive, which means being very mindful of what you’re eating. After all, the foods you eat can directly impact the baby’s development. 

Unfortunately, sifting through the list of “pregnancy-approved foods” can be a total headache. Every food seems to come with a big, blinking “PROCEED WITH CAUTION” sign. Can I eat this? What about that? By the time you weed through all the “no’s” on the list, it might feel like you can only survive on water and rice cakes.

As if that’s not enough, you’re trying so hard to eat well, but then morning sickness strikes or weird cravings take over. Suddenly, your best nutrition intentions are thrown for a loop! And when cravings for so-called “riskier” foods like ranch dressing strike, confusion sets in, and one common question arises: “Can pregnant women eat ranch dressing?” 

So let’s talk ranch, shall we? Let’s dig into the details to find out whether ranch dressing gets the green light.

is ranch dressing safe for pregnancy

Can You Eat Ranch While Pregnant?

Ranch dressing during pregnancy seems to spark endless debate and confusion regarding food safety during pregnancy. On one side, you’ve got people who see it as an easy condiment to whip up or enjoy. But as you look at the ingredients, many have questions about the dairy and sometimes eggs! 

With so many varieties out there, too, from the classic thick and creamy kind to lighter versions to homemade recipes, it’s no wonder expectant moms are left confused about whether the ranch is safe to indulge in. One minute, you’re happily dipping your carrot sticks, and the next, you’re wondering if you’re putting your pregnancy at risk! 

But don’t worry, I’m happy to put this debate to rest in this post using evidence-based scientific studies. 

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What Is Ranch Dressing Made Of?

First, we need to examine what goes into this creamy, herbaceous condiment to understand the ranch dressing safety debate.

At its core, ranch is a blend of fresh herbs like dill, chives, and parsley, plus savory spices like onion powder, paprika, and garlic. But it’s the dairy ingredients that really make it rich and indulgent–I’m talking about buttermilk, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Homemade varieties often include raw eggs. Most store-bought ranch dressing brands also add some preservatives to give it a longer shelf life.

Now, here’s where things get a little iffy for pregnant women. Raw dairy carries a slightly higher risk for the potential to harbor some nasty bacteria. I’m talking about listeria, the big bad bug behind listeriosis food poisoning.

The CDC tells expecting mamas to steer clear of any unpasteurized dairy products because of this potential listeria risk. Unfortunately, listeriosis is one of the more serious foodborne illnesses that can lead to pregnancy complications. 

You’re generally good to go when buying ranch at the grocery store since all the major brands use pasteurized dairy ingredients. If a dressing is on the shelf (not in the refrigerator), you know it is pasteurized and safe to eat.

It’s homemade ranch recipes or the “house” kinds at some restaurants that become a bit more risky. Those can contain unpasteurized milk products, cream, or mayo made with raw eggs. Usually, restaurants and home chefs use pasteurized dairy products and eggs, although pasteurized eggs can be tricky to find. 

Speaking of raw eggs, they’re also a higher-risk choice during pregnancy due to the possible salmonella risk. Many homemade and house restaurant ranches use raw egg yolks to help emulsify and create that dreamy texture. Even though the risk is small overall, the best practice would be to skip options made with unpasteurized raw eggs. 

can you use ranch dressing during pregnancy

Is Ranch Dressing Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?

The answer is YES; ranch dressing is generally safe during pregnancy!

You can totally indulge those creamy, herby cravings while rocking that baby bump. The one thing to remember: the best practice is to choose ranch dressing that is pasteurized or has pasteurized ingredients, similar to the cases of Caesar dressing and blue cheese ranch dressing. 

Many ranch dressings do not contain eggs at all.

When you’re pregnant, your immune system is slightly suppressed. That means you’re a bit more susceptible to catching illnesses. In addition to being more susceptible to illness, the side effects of contracting foodborne illness can be serious for both mom and baby. In the worst-case scenarios, it could lead to complications, including miscarriage, preterm labor, or stillbirth. 

The culprits in this case? Nasty pathogens like salmonella and listeria can sneak into ranch dressings made with raw eggs or unpasteurized dairy products. You do not want to tango with those pathogens while pregnant.

Homemade ranch, the kind from your favorite hole-in-the-wall diner or mom’s infamous recipe, is best to skip unless you can confirm they used pasteurized ingredients.

But don’t fret! The ranch dressings from the grocery store are your BFF during these 9 months.  Primal Kitchen, Tessemae’s, and Chosen are a few examples of safe commercial brands that can be enjoyed during pregnancy. 

The FDA gives pasteurized dairy two thumbs up for pregnant ladies as long as they follow all the storage instructions properly. 

7 Tips for Eating Ranch Dressing While Pregnant

How To Eat Ranch Dressing While Pregnant

Here are some tips on how to safely eat ranch dressing while pregnant:

Choose Pasteurized Ranch Dressings

When it comes to ranch dressing during pregnancy, pasteurized is the way to go! Look for bottles and pouches that state they’re made with pasteurized milk, cream, and eggs. The pasteurization process eliminates harmful bacteria and other pathogens that could be present.

Check the Ingredient List

Read the food label and ingredient list to check for pasteurization and to see what’s actually in your ranch dressing. Some brands have better quality ingredients than others! Primal Kitchen has great condiment options, including a more wholesome ranch dressing.

Opt for Commercial Brands

Commercial, storebought dressings have your back when ranch cravings strike. In the United States, ranch dressing options sold on grocery store shelves are made with pasteurized dairy and eggs where applicable. As mentioned above, you can check out the food label to confirm.

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Be Cautious with Homemade or “House” Dressing

Traditional homemade ranch dressing recipes often include raw eggs. Commercially produced ranch dressings use pasteurized eggs and dairy products to kill pathogens and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. However, this isn’t always the case with homemade options. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask!

Pair With Nourishing Foods

Dips and dressings can be a great way to add flavor and enjoyment to snacks or meals. Enjoy ranch dressing with nutrient-rich foods like fresh vegetables and homemade baked chicken wings to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.

Practice Good Food Safety 

Being food-safe and food-aware is key during pregnancy. This helps to prevent and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Store ranch dressing properly in the refrigerator and discard any leftovers sitting out for too long. 

Keep Your Ears Open for Recall

While we are discussing food safety, let’s discuss recalls. It is overall rare, but there’s always a chance a commercially-produced ranch could get recalled due to potential contamination issues. Stay in the loop by signing up for recall email alerts from the FDA website. 

Can You Eat Ranch While Pregnant?

Pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of all your favorite flavors and condiments. 

It’s all about implementing food safety practices and making informed choices so that you can continue to enjoy most of the foods you love during pregnancy. Navigating the ranch dressing “dilemma” is just one example of the many nutrition minefields you may face during pregnancy. With so much conflicting advice and endless lists of “do’s and don’ts” out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to figure out what’s safe for pregnant women on your own.

But here’s the good news: you never have to do it alone! The Prenatal Nutrition Library App (TPNL) is here to support you. Beyond understanding the science behind why certain foods may need to be avoided during pregnancy, The Prenatal Nutrition Library® will teach you what foods provide optimal nutrition for the most optimal pregnancy outcomes for you and baby.

No more scouring the internet for answers; nutrition experts’ advice is all there in one convenient place!

From detailing which foods to avoid (the list is much shorter than we’re often told) to providing balanced meal plans tailored specifically for expectant moms, TPNL takes the guesswork out of prenatal nutrition. You can even download a FREE 1-week sample pregnancy meal plan to get a taste of how easy and stress-free eating for two can be!

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