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healthy and unhealthy condiment choices

Are you curious whether your favorite condiments will fit in with your new diet?

Here’s a breakdown of some of the healthiest and unhealthiest condiments sold in stores near you.

The Unhealthy Condiments

First, let’s take a look at some of the unhealthiest condiments there are. Many of these are condiments that we use every day, but if you’re trying to lose weight, they may be something you want to avoid.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that moderation is a big part of the problem.

A single tablespoon of a condiment on this list isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can become a problem when you’re covering a sandwich with it or using a cup of it in a recipe.

That’s exactly the problem that many people face with the first condiment on the list.

1. Mayonnaise

mayo on french fries

It’s unfortunate that one of most delicious condiments is also one of the unhealthiest. The average tablespoon of mayo is going to contain about 90 calories.

That’s almost five percent of the daily recommended caloric intake for most people. And that’s only in a single tablespoon.

That’s barely enough for a single sandwich. Much more than that goes into recipes like potato salad.

It’s very easy to overshoot your daily calorie limit because of mayo, which can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Calories aren’t the only problem when it comes to mayonnaise. It also has very high fat content (find out why fat is a high-energy food here). That same tablespoon of mayo will have roughly 10 grams of fat.

That’s more than 15 percent o the daily recommended limit for the average male. Just having two sandwiches at lunch will make it very hard to stay under the recommended limit.

condiments used as dipping sauces

To make matters worse, around 1.5 grams of that fat is saturated fat. That’s more than 7 percent of your daily limit for saturated fats.

That is the type of fat most often linked to serious health conditions like heart disease.

Finally, a tablespoon of mayo has around 90 mg of sodium and 5 mg of cholesterol. There are certainly condiments quantities worse than that, but it’s important to pay attention to nonetheless.

A single tablespoon of mayo has about 4 percent of your daily recommended intake of sodium. Too much can lead increased blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease.

Does this mean you should cut mayo out of your diet altogether? Not exactly. If you like it, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying it in moderation.

A single sandwich with a tablespoon of mayo won’t put you over your limit as long as you are keeping track of what you eat throughout the rest of the day. And you can make it easier by purchasing low-fat mayonnaise.

2. Ranch Dressing

bread being dipped into ranch dressing

The salad perfectly represents a healthy food choice, but all of the benefits of a salad are immediately ruined once you start piling on the ranch dressing.

Once again, ranch may be one of the most delicious condiments ever invented, but it’s so unhealthy that it can turn any healthy snack option into a poor choice.

The average service size of ranch dressing is 2 ounces. That serving size has around 190 calories, which is nearly 10 percent of the daily recommended caloric intake.

And keep in mind that this is a condiment and is rarely consumed alone. That means you’re adding extra calories to whatever it is you are already eating.

It’s entirely possible for a single meal with ranch dressing to take up more than half of your recommended calories for the day.

There aren’t many vitamins or minerals found in ranch dressing. But it does have plenty of unhealthy fats and sodium. A single serving of ranch dressing can have as much as 630 mg of sodium.

That’s almost half of your daily recommended limit. And most people already come close to exceeding that limit even without using ranch.

As with mayo, the best way to enjoy ranch is in moderation.

Use a low-sodium or low-calorie version if you want to stay below the daily recommended limit. Pay attention to the serving size listed on the bottle and try not to exceed a single serving in one day.

The Healthy Condiments

Not all condiments are bad news to those on a diet. There are a surprising number of condiments that are low in calories, fats, and carbs while having a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals.

Here are just a few options you should consider when trying to add flavor to your meals.

1. Mustard

mustard on a hot dog

It’s very possible that mustard is the healthiest condiment around. It has plenty of protein, fiber, and vitamins in every bite.

Some of the minerals in mustard include potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.

There are only 3 calories in each serving and it has very little sodium and fat.

Mustard also happens to go well with so many different foods. You can add it to a burger, a hot dog, or fries that you’ve made at home. The only problem is that the foods it commonly goes with may not be the healthiest meal choices around.

2. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is an acquired taste for most. If you love it, then you’re in luck because it’s actually a fairly healthy condiment choice. You can pour a little bit on top of cooked foods or add it to your dishes while they are on the stove. And the great part is that it has a bold flavor so that a little goes a long way.

a bowl of soy sauce

Soy sauce is traditionally made by fermenting a mixture of soybeans and wheat. As with any food that is fermented, this means that soy sauce is packed full of healthy probiotics.

These are specific gut bacteria that are all-around good for your health and are most often found in yogurt.

You may have a limited source of probiotics if you are on a vegan diet. Soy sauce is a great way to ensure your gut stays healthy even without the yogurt.

Soy sauce has roughly 8 calories per tablespoon. That’s less than 1/10th the number of calories found in the same serving size of mayonnaise. It also only has one gram of carbohydrates and 0 grams of fat.

Unfortunately, there is one set back. Soy sauce is traditionally very high in sodium. A single tablespoon can have more than 60 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake.

You can cut that percentage by more than half if you invest in a low-sodium variation. They are easily recognizable by their green tops.

Bottom Line: Portion Control Matters

Whether a condiment is healthy or unhealthy; it’s the portion size that is going to make the biggest difference.

A small portion of ranch dressing is still a healthier option than overdoing it on the mustard.

Make sure you read the nutrition label and keep track of how much ketchup or mustard you are adding to your favorite foods.


Sources:

https://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/unhealthy-condiments/

https://greatist.com/health/healthy-condiments-pantry-staples

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