New Jersey Bariatric Center
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Nutrition Fact Check: 7-Layer Dip Recipe Makeover

By New Jersey Bariatric Center Staff | December 6, 2016

Seven-layer dip is one of those impressive-looking, easy-to-prepare appetizers that shows up throughout the year. Whether you’re at a holiday meal, a summer BBQ or watching a game with friends, this dip is always a hit. And it must be good for you too since all of the ingredients are pretty healthy, right? This is a case where the sum doesn't equal its parts.


The ingredients in 7-layer dip - avocado, beans, salsa - are all items that show up on nutritionists’ lists of favorite healthy choices. Individually, they can be great choices. But put them all together, top them with high fat ingredients and place it next to a bowl of chips and you end up with a diet-wrecking appetizer that is high in fat, salt and calories. One traditional dip recipe  we looked at using canned refried beans, taco seasoning and full-fat cheeses and sour cream had 430 calories in one serving. That doesn’t even count the chips!


Salt: The combination of canned refried beans and taco seasoning puts 7-layer dip into the danger zone for salt intake with a whopping 1075 mg of salt in one serving. Try puréeing canned black or pinto beans with a little water to cut back on salt. Instead of taco seasoning, mix your own blend of seasonings, like cumin, chili and garlic powder, to get great flavor while keeping in charge of the salt content.

Fat: Traditional dip logs in at 30 grams of fat with about 12 of those coming from saturated fat. Switch out the full-fat dairy for low-fat cheese and sour cream to reduce the fat.

Calories: Consider reducing the guacamole and olives by half or leaving them off altogether. While these foods are rich in “healthy” fats, they are also very high in calories so it’s best to eat these in moderation. Swap out the chips to save on calories as well. It’s easy to forget that there are 140 calories in just 13 chips and almost zero nutritional value. Replace those chips with cucumber slices, carrots, celery or lettuce for a healthier choice.


For weight loss surgery patients, bean dip can be a great high-protein snack if you keep the portion small, use healthier ingredients and use veggies instead of chips to dip. If you plan to indulge in dip as an appetizer, remember to count this as part of the meal you are about to eat and adjust what you eat accordingly.


Our NJBC-tested and RD-approved Chipolte Black Bean Dip is a great substitute for traditional 7-layer dip.

Chipotle Black Bean Dip


•    1 tablespoon olive oil
•    ¼ cup red onions, chopped
•    2 garlic cloves, chopped
•    2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
•    ½ cup salsa (chipotle)
•    ¼ cup fresh cilantro, or 1 tablespoon dried
•    1 tablespoon lime juice
•    2 tablespoon water
•    1/8 teaspoon salt
•    Pepper to taste
•    Choice of vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumbers, endive)


  1. Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Add onions cook over medium heat until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Do not brown.
  2. Transfer the mixture to blender or food processor.
  3. Add drained and rinsed beans, salsa, cilantro, lime juice, water, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  4. Transfer dip to a serving dish and serve with fresh vegetables.

Nutrition Facts (per serving without vegetables)
Yields: 4 servings

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 1.5gm
  • Carb: 22gm
  • Protein: 7gm
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