Commendable and Condemnable Condiments

by Charles Platkin, PhD

All those little ketchup packets can add up, but they’re still relatively low in calories, but ONLY if you use them sparingly.

  • Heinz Ketchup (2 tbsp): 30 calories, 0 g fat, 8 g carbohydrate

Plain old mustard is a great condiment — offering great taste for very few calories. But even mustard can be dangerous to your waist if you’re not careful. Mustard mixed with honey is a relatively low calorie condiment, but most honey mustard dressings are usually mixed with oil and sometimes cream.

  • Burger King’s Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (1 oz packet — about 2 tbsp): 90 calories, 6 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate
  • French’s Prepared Deli Mustard (2 tbsp): 32 calories, 2 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate
  • Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard (2 tbsp): 36 calories, 2 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate

Famous as an ingredient in a Bloody Mary, horseradish adds lots of flavor and no fat. One tablespoon of prepared horseradish has only 6 calories, 1 g carbohydrate, and no fat. But don’t confuse horseradish with horseradish SAUCE. The addition of sour cream puts this condiment on the condemnable list.

  • Subway’s Select Dijon Horseradish Sauce (1 1/2 tbsp): 90 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g carbohydrate

I doubt Jared was topping his sandwiches with this.

While it’s true that oils such as olive, canola, or the popular flaxseed are heart-healthy choices, they are still high in calories and should be used sparingly.

  • Olive oil (1 tbsp): 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate

Many sauces and spreads found on sandwiches or with appetizers are actually loaded with fat and calories.

  • Starr Ridge Sun Dried Tomato Cracker Spread (2 tbsp): 140 calories, 12 g fat, 6 g carbohydrate
  • Pesto (2 tbsp): 160 calories, 15 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate

This is by far the most condemnable of all the condiments! Just 2 tablespoons of Hellmann’s has 200 calories, 22 g fat, and no carbs — wow! It’s used to make tuna salad, chicken salad, and Russian dressing; it’s spread on top of hamburgers and sandwiches — it’s everywhere. And believe me, when it goes on as a condiment — people don’t use it sparingly. Switching from 2 tablespoons of regular mayo to low-fat mayo on your daily sandwich would save you 36,500 calories and help you lose as much as 10 pounds after one year!

  • Hellmann’s Light (2 tbsp): 100 calories, 10 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate

Sure, sour cream is great on Mexican food, in dips, and on a baked potato, but a serving of Breakstone’s (2 tbsp) has 60 calories, 5 g fat, and 1 g carbohydrate. Replace your full-fat sour cream with reduced-fat varieties, or better yet, use plain nonfat yogurt — it has only 7 calories per tablespoon!

How much do you think you spread on your sandwich or toast? And do you think margarine is better? Check out these numbers:

  • Land O’Lakes Butter (1 tbsp): 100 calories, 11 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate
  • Fleischmann’s Margarine (1 tbsp): 100 calories, 11 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate
  • Parkay Margarine (1 tbsp): 90 calories, 10 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate

Not much of a difference there. Also, keep in mind that many brands of margarine have trans fats, which may negate the health benefits of the decrease in saturated fat.

Here are some healthier choices:

  • Land O’Lakes Whipped Butter (1 tbsp): 70 calories, 7 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate
  • Parkay Light Margarine (1 tbsp): 50 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate
  • Smart Beat Super Light Margarine (1 tbsp): 20 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g carbohydrate

But if you do switch to a lighter version, keep in mind that these calories can add up quickly — the fact that it’s lower in calories still doesn’t give you the license to go wild. A good rule of thumb to remember is that a pat of butter or margarine is slightly more than one teaspoon.

Though it’s not as high as peanut butter, jelly can still add significant calories to your day. Spread a thin layer on your bread or crackers, and opt for the sugar-free or no sugar added versions which are a better deal.

  • Polaner All Fruit Spreadable Fruit Strawberry (1 tbsp): 40 calories, 0 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate
  • Smucker’s Light Sugar Free Seedless Blackberry Jam (1 Tbsp): 10 calories, 0 g fat, 5 g carbohydrate

Tartar sauce goes best with fried fish — a combination that is deadly to the waistline. One ounce of Burger King’s tartar sauce has a monstrous 160 calories and 16 g fat, with no carbohydrates. Kraft makes a fat-free tartar sauce that has 25 calories, 0 g fat, and 5 g carbohydrate per ounce (2 tbsp). Use this, or switch to grilled fish with cocktail sauce or salsa for a delicious, lower calorie alternative.

This sauce adds flavor to almost anything — it’s sweet, tangy, and a must for any outdoor eating festival.

  • Kraft Original Barbeque Sauce (2 tbsp): 40 calories, 0 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate

Watch out for those seemingly harmless packs of duck sauce that come with your next order of Chinese food.

  • Saucy Susan Duck Sauce (2 tbsp): 80 calories, 0 g fat, 19 g carbohydrate

I was actually surprised at how few calories steak sauce contained.

  • A1 Steak Sauce (1 tbsp): 15 calories, 0 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate

Not only is salsa great on Mexican foods, it’s also delicious on baked potatoes, grilled chicken or seafood, and even sandwiches or burgers.

  • Tostitos Salsa (2 tbsp): 15 calories, 0 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate
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