Condiments: The con to healthy eating

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Condiments: The Con to Healthy Eating

Adding a little zing, taste, and pop… we love to dip, marinate, and top our food with ketchup, mustard, and/or barbeque sauce. These condiments practically go hand in hand with many of our traditional dishes. Ketchup and French fries. Mustard and hotdogs. Barbeque and chicken. And typical of our habits, we aren’t exactly dipping in moderation 😊 After all, every fry needs that red color on it before eating. Enhancing the flavor of what we consume just feels right, but maybe we should consider what these condiments contain. They can actually be the culprit of what has made the meal unhealthy.

Ketchup is packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and salt. That’s the flavor right?? Just because it’s made with tomatoes doesn’t mean it’s a vegetable. There are 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon and most of us aren’t limiting to one 1 serving. Besides the added sugar, ketchup is salt filled with 160 grams of sodium per tablespoon. Alone it is not a high sodium food, but considering we use it on high sodium dishes like French fries, the combo isn’t ideal.

Good news is that mustard is sugar free. It is also lower in sodium with 57 grams per packet or teaspoon. It may have been the first condiment ever used by humans. Egyptian pharaohs put mustard seeds in their tombs and Romans were the first to grind the seeds and make a paste. Its yellow color is actually from the turmeric that is added. I don’t have too much bad to say about mustard. It pretty much has no fat and no calories.

But when it comes to barbeque sauce that is a different story. In two tablespoons serving, there can be 12 to 17 grams of sugar, 200 t0 300 milligrams of sodium, and all in all, that is 14% of the totals you should have in a day. It also has 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Needless to say, we don’t always stick to the one serving. Sometimes eating a boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast, but drenched in BBQ, can be just as bad as having fried chicken.

Although the above selections are the popular choices, we should also chat salad dressings and some better options. For instance, try pesto sauce over ranch dressing. Just ¼ cup of pesto contains 8% of the (recommended daily intake) RDI for zinc, which is good for wound healing and immunity, versus ranch that in just two tablespoons has nearly 130 empty calories. Another good alternative to salad dressings is salsa, especially if it is homemade. Keep an eye out for fat-free or reduced-fat dressings. These often contain more sugar and salt to compensate for flavor.

Mayonnaise can be another calorie and fat bomb. Try swapping this out for hummus on your sandwiches which is loaded with protein, magnesium, vitamin B, and vitamin C. Plain Greek yogurt can also be used as a mayo substitute, sour cream option, whipped cream, or even a bagel spread. Ditching traditional pancake syrup is also a good idea considering it typically has corn syrup and tons of preservatives. Try nut butter, honey, or fresh berries instead.

Clean eating doesn’t have to mean plain eating, but keep in mind what was healthy can be destroyed by condiment use. A nutritious salad drenched in dressing defeats the healthy intention. Whole grain pancakes doused in syrup are not any better for you anymore. Grilled chicken with barbeque sauce on every bite no longer means, “I hate a healthy dinner”. Let the taste and flavor of the food itself be enjoyed. If you don’t buy it, you won’t use it. If you don’t ask for it when eating out, you won’t have it. Don’t set yourself up. Condiments con you into unhealthy choices,

Is your salad dressing hurting your healthy diet? – Harvard Health

Toxic Ingredients Report: Your Ketchup May Be Harmful To Your Health | 1MD

Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease – Mayo Clinic

Sodium: How to tame your salt habit – Mayo Clinic

Condiment – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

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Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.