There’s nothing like a good dipping sauce. It can add flavor, texture, and make a meal feel complete. But if you’re trying to eat better? You might want to be careful.
Admittedly, it’s easy to forget about them. Some combinations are classic! There’s nothing better than fries and ketchup, or chips and salsa. Even buffalo wings seem naked without bleu cheese dressing. And what’s sushi without soy sauce?
Condiments play a huge role in food. However, most are processed and super unhealthy. Here’s a breakdown of popular sauces – and better choices.
In America, ketchup is everywhere. It’s a staple in many restaurants. Sadly, it’s also one of the worst dipping sauces for you.
One tablespoon has about 3.62 grams of sugar.1 That’s only a fraction of the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 25 grams.2 Let’s be real, though. One tablespoon is barely enough for a burger and fries – a classic American meal. It quickly adds up.
Plus, the sugar is usually from high-fructose corn syrup – a no-no for healthy eating.3
One tablespoon also boasts 154 milligrams of salt. It seems like nothing, but Americans eat too much. The average intake is 3,400 milligrams – almost double the recommended 1,500 milligrams.4 Ketchup just adds to that intake.
Buy ketchup with no added sugar, low sodium, or no added salt. Want to make your own? Start with low-sodium tomato paste or fresh tomatoes. Cook with honey, garlic powder, and onion powder over medium heat for one hour.5
2. Barbecue Sauce
From pulled pork to ribs, barbecue sauce is an essential. But you might be surprised to learn how much sugar it has. One tablespoon contains 5.65 grams!
You’ll also get 175 milligrams of sodium – more than ketchup – and 29 calories.6 It doesn’t help that most dishes are marinated in barbecue sauce. Basically, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Buy barbecue sauce with no added sugar or salt. You can also use homemade ketchup to make it. The web is full of variations, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
In place of sugar, use honey or pure maple syrup.
3. Soy Sauce
Asian food is one of the most popular ethnic cuisines. Yet, in America, Chinese takeout is teeming with sodium. Soy sauce is a major culprit.
In just one tablespoon, you’ll get 1,228 milligrams.7 That’s enough for your whole day’s intake. What’s worse is that foods eaten with soy sauce are salty, too.
Other Asian countries, like Japan and Korea, also use soy sauce. If you enjoy these cuisines, steer clear from soy sauce.
If possible, buy low-sodium soy sauce. You can also opt for sweet and sour sauce, wasabi, and garlic paste. These alternatives have that Asian flavor without as much sodium.
4. Creamy Dressings
Creamy dips, like Ranch and bleu cheese dressing, are often served with appetizers. They’re also popular options for salads – and bad news.
For instance, one tablespoon of Ranch dressing has 64 calories, 6.68 grams of fat, 0.7 grams of sugar, and 135 milligrams of sodium.8 Keep this in mind before dunking your wings.
As a rule of thumb, avoid any sauce that is creamy and thick. It’s a tell-tale sign that it’s not healthy.
Buy low-fat or fat-free versions. You can also combine herbs with plain Greek yogurt. It’s creamy, but with less sodium, fat, and sugar.
As for salads? Opt for non-creamy dressings, like balsamic vinaigrette or Italian. Oil and vinegar is a tasty, simple choice.
Mexican food, another well-loved cuisine, often starts off with chips and salsa. Unfortunately, salsa can have tons of added salt. That’s not even counting the tortilla chips.
In two tablespoons of salsa, you’ll get 256 milligrams of sodium.9 If it’s served with cheese, or as salsa con queso, the salt content is even higher.
Make it yourself! Chop tomatoes and add a splash of lemon or lime juice. Add your favorite fixings, like corn, black beans, avocado, or onion. There’s nothing better than fresh salsa.
You don’t have to give up dipping sauces. Instead, check labels when grocery shopping. Try your hand at homemade condiments, which are both tasty and rewarding.
|↑1||Basic Report: 11935, Catsup. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑2||WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children. World Health Organization.|
|↑3, ↑5||Healthier Condiments. American Heart Association.|
|↑4||How Much Sodium Should I Eat Per Day? American Heart Association.|
|↑6||Basic Report: 06150, Sauce, barbecue. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑7||Basic Report: 16125, Soy sauce made from hydrolyzed vegetable protein. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑8||Basic Report: 04639, Salad dressing, ranch dressing, regular. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑9||Basic Report: 06164, Sauce, salsa, ready-to-serve. United States Department of Agriculture.|