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Thousand Island vs. Russian Dressing — How Do They Differ?

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on July 26, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel
Thousand island
vs
Russian dressing

Summary

Russian dressing is two times higher in carbohydrates but lower in fats and calories. Thousand Island contains cholesterol, while Russian dressing does not.

Thousand Island contains 50 times more vitamin B1, 2 times more iron, and less sodium. 

However, Russian dressing provides vitamin C, vitamins B5, B6, B9, and copper, which are absent in Thousand Island.

Introduction

A dressing is a simple way to add flavor and texture to any salad; however, it can also significantly alter the nutritional properties of the meal. In this article, we will compare two similar dressings - Thousand Island and Russian Dressing - and see what sets these two apart.

Ingredients

The main ingredient making up the base of both Thousand Island and Russian dressings is a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise.

Russian dressing is usually made by adding finely chopped horseradish, pimentos, chives, chili sauce, and spices to the base. The name “Russian dressing” is misleading as it is said to have originated in the US in the early 1900s. The name “Russian” came about as a result of a key ingredient used at the time - black caviar (1).

Besides all these ingredients, Thousand Island also usually contains pickle relish and hard-boiled eggs, as well as onions, bell peppers, and Worcestershire sauce.

Naturally, like with any recipe, the ingredients of these dressings can be altered according to taste and convenience. Some use chili sauce in the base instead of ketchup. Other ingredients, such as lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard, can be added or omitted.

Taste and Use

Due to the horseradish and chili sauce, Russian dressing is usually tangier, spicier, and less sweet compared to Thousand Island. However, it is still a piquant dressing.

A key ingredient of Thousand Island - pickle relish - is what gives this dressing its sweet flavor.

Other than in salads, these dressings can be used in sandwiches, spreads, and as a sauce to serve with fries or seafood. Russian dressing is most commonly used in a Reuben sandwich, while a form of Thousand Island dressing is used to make Big Mac.

Nutrition

The numbers below are presented for commercially prepared, regular Thousand Island and Russian dressing, taken from the USDA database.

Macronutrients and Calories

Russian dressing is a little thicker than Thousand Island, consisting of 39% water, while Thousand Island dressing contains 47% water.

The average serving size for both these dressings can be considered to be 2 tablespoons, equal to 30g.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +58%
Contains more Fats +33.9%
Contains more Water +20.7%
Contains more Carbs +117.9%
Equal in Other - 2.7
35% 15% 47% 3%
Protein: 1.09 g
Fats: 35.06 g
Carbs: 14.64 g
Water: 46.51 g
Other: 2.7 g
26% 32% 39% 3%
Protein: 0.69 g
Fats: 26.18 g
Carbs: 31.9 g
Water: 38.53 g
Other: 2.7 g
Contains more Protein +58%
Contains more Fats +33.9%
Contains more Water +20.7%
Contains more Carbs +117.9%
Equal in Other - 2.7

Calories

Based on a 30g serving size, Russian dressing provides 107 calories, while Thousand Island contains slightly more calories with 114. Both Thousand Island and Russian dressings are high-calorie foods.

Fats

Fat is the predominant macronutrient found in most dressings. Thousand Island and Russian dressing fall in the top 10% of foods as a source of fats.

Thousand Island is higher in fats compared to Russian dressing. Russian dressing provides 8g of fats per average serving size, while Thousand Island contains 11g.

As Thousand Island dressing contains eggs, it also contains cholesterol, while Russian dressing does not.

However, the fat composition of these two dressings is similar. Over 50% of the fat consists of polyunsaturated fats, with only around 10% saturated fats.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +32.9%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +22.9%
Contains less Saturated Fat -53.1%
16% 25% 58%
Saturated Fat: 5.092 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 7.881 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 18.22 g
10% 26% 64%
Saturated Fat: 2.39 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5.928 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 14.83 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +32.9%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +22.9%
Contains less Saturated Fat -53.1%

Carbohydrates

Russian dressing is two times higher in carbohydrates compared to Thousand Island dressing.

The two are high in sugars and low in fiber.

Protein

Thousand Island and Russian dressing are insufficient sources of protein, as they both provide less than 5% of the daily protein value per 100g serving.

However, Thousand Island is slightly higher in protein compared to Russian dressing.

Vitamins

Russian dressing wins in this category. It provides more vitamin C, vitamins B5, B6, and B9. Russian dressing is also higher in vitamin A and vitamin B3.

However, Thousand Island is 50 times richer in vitamin B1. It also contains slightly more vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin B2 compared to Russian dressing.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin E +20.5%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +4882.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +26.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +28.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +170.9%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +42.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +∞%
Equal in Choline - 4.6
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 13% 80% 0% 0% 362% 14% 8% 0% 0% 0% 0% 3% 173%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 35% 67% 0% 20% 8% 11% 12% 24% 23% 4% 0% 3% 135%
Contains more Vitamin E +20.5%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +4882.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +26.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +28.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +170.9%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +42.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +∞%
Equal in Choline - 4.6

Minerals

Thousand Island provides 2 times more iron and more calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.

At the same time, Russian dressing contains copper, which Thousand Island lacks, and is richer in potassium and magnesium.

While both dressings are very high in sodium, Thousand Island contains slightly less.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Calcium +30.8%
Contains more Iron +96.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +35%
Contains less Sodium -15.1%
Contains more Zinc +18.2%
Contains more Magnesium +25%
Contains more Potassium +61.7%
Contains more Copper +∞%
Contains more Manganese +57.5%
Equal in Selenium - 1.6
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 6% 45% 6% 12% 10% 126% 8% 0% 6% 9%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 4% 23% 8% 9% 16% 148% 6% 20% 9% 9%
Contains more Calcium +30.8%
Contains more Iron +96.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +35%
Contains less Sodium -15.1%
Contains more Zinc +18.2%
Contains more Magnesium +25%
Contains more Potassium +61.7%
Contains more Copper +∞%
Contains more Manganese +57.5%
Equal in Selenium - 1.6

Health Impact

Studies on the health impact of these dressings have not yet been carried out; however, we can assume their effects based on their ingredients and nutritional compositions.

Health Benefits

As stated before, the predominant fat found in both Thousand Island and Russian dressing is polyunsaturated fat. There is substantial evidence that polyunsaturated fatty acids induce significant beneficial cardiovascular effects through various mechanisms (2).

Thousand Island and Russian dressing are both rich in vitamin K, which plays a vital role in regulating blood clotting and bone health (3).

Thousand Island is also a good source of vitamin B1, which plays an essential role in the energy metabolism of the whole body, contributing to nerve, muscle, and heart health (4).

Downsides and Risks

At the same time, research has shown that replacing about 10g of mayonnaise with olive oil daily is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality (5). This shows that a recipe that uses less mayonnaise and more olive oil to make Thousand Island or Russian dressing is the healthier choice.

While Thousand Island is slightly lower in sodium, both these dressings fall in the top 6% of foods as a source of sodium. High sodium intake has been researched to lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, and cancer (6).

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: July 26, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel

Infographic

Thousand island vs Russian dressing infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Thousand island Russian dressing
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal
Lower in price Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Thousand island Russian dressing Opinion
Net carbs 13.84g 31.2g Russian dressing
Protein 1.09g 0.69g Thousand island
Fats 35.06g 26.18g Thousand island
Carbs 14.64g 31.9g Russian dressing
Calories 379kcal 355kcal Thousand island
Fructose 4g Thousand island
Sugar 15.18g 17.68g Thousand island
Fiber 0.8g 0.7g Thousand island
Calcium 17mg 13mg Thousand island
Iron 1.18mg 0.6mg Thousand island
Magnesium 8mg 10mg Russian dressing
Phosphorus 27mg 20mg Thousand island
Potassium 107mg 173mg Russian dressing
Sodium 962mg 1133mg Thousand island
Zinc 0.26mg 0.22mg Thousand island
Copper 0mg 0.058mg Russian dressing
Manganese 0.04mg 0.063mg Russian dressing
Selenium 1.5µg 1.6µg Russian dressing
Vitamin A 213IU 577IU Russian dressing
Vitamin A RAE 14µg 29µg Russian dressing
Vitamin E 4mg 3.32mg Thousand island
Vitamin C 0mg 6mg Russian dressing
Vitamin B1 1.445mg 0.029mg Thousand island
Vitamin B2 0.058mg 0.046mg Thousand island
Vitamin B3 0.418mg 0.594mg Russian dressing
Vitamin B5 0mg 0.4mg Russian dressing
Vitamin B6 0mg 0.097mg Russian dressing
Folate 0µg 5µg Russian dressing
Choline 4.6mg 4.6mg
Vitamin K 69.1µg 53.7µg Thousand island
Cholesterol 26mg 0mg Russian dressing
Trans Fat 0.17g Thousand island
Saturated Fat 5.092g 2.39g Russian dressing
Monounsaturated Fat 7.881g 5.928g Thousand island
Polyunsaturated fat 18.22g 14.83g Thousand island

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Thousand island Russian dressing
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
50%
Thousand island
26%
Russian dressing
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
22%
Thousand island
25%
Russian dressing

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Thousand island
Thousand island is lower in Sugar (difference - 2.5g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Thousand island
Thousand island contains less Sodium (difference - 171mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Russian dressing
Russian dressing is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 26mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Russian dressing
Russian dressing is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 2.702g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes ()
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Thousand island - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171402/nutrients
  2. Russian dressing - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171005/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.