Your favorite condiments might be loaded with cheap oils and empty calories. We have healthier, more satisfying swaps here.
Creamy Salad Dressings
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Creamy salad dressings are packed with calories, saturated fat, and sodium thanks to a rich combo of mayonnaise, cheap oils, and cheese. Just two tablespoons on your salad and you're adding 150 calories (mostly in the form of less-healthy fats).
I prefer to use a tahini-based dressing instead. Tahini is a vegan butter made from sesame seeds, loaded with minerals such as calcium and magnesium for bone health and iron for healthy red blood cells and to prevent anemia. Try this Black Bean Swiss Chard Detox Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing.
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Your run-of-the-mill ketchup is loaded with sugar and salt that can add up fast! Some varieties even use high-fructose corn syrup, which may have negative effects on your metabolism.
Salsa, on the other hand, is low in calories and can also be low in added sugars. Check out the ingredients list and make sure tomatoes are listed early on and that sugar isn't listed—that's a great way to know you're getting more of the good stuff. Bonus health benefit: Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can boost heart health.
Related: 12 Homemade Salsa Recipes
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Mayonnaise is typically made with soybean oil, egg yolks, and vinegar, meaning it's loaded with empty calories and saturated fat. In just one tablespoon you're getting 100 calories that won't fill you up.
Trade in the mayo in your tuna, chicken, or egg salad for some plain Greek yogurt. You'll get the added benefits of protein and calcium, nutrients known for their weight management benefits. Add a little squeeze of lemon, salt, and pepper and you'll take your light and creamy salad to the next level. (I love this Skinny Egg Salad with Greek Yogurt.)
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Non-brewed soy sauces are usually chemically processed in a few days with hydrolyzed vegetable (soy) protein, caramel colors, and artificial preservatives. If you're looking for gluten-free condiments, regular soy sauce is not your choice as it usually contains 40 to 60 percent wheat. (Be aware of these other sodium-bombs too.)
Try Tamari instead. San-J's Gluten-Free Tamari is brewed with 100 percent non-GMO soy and no wheat, and without any artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. Bonus: It has an even richer flavor than soy sauce, and it's available in organic and reduced-sodium varieties too.
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Are you buying cheap honey at the grocery store in a liquid squeeze bottle? It could be mixed with high-fructose corn syrup to help it flow better... so you're not getting as much of the antibacterial benefits of natural honey. Store-bought honey may also have had the pollen filtered out of it (bee pollen is 40 percent protein!).
Real honey (containing the pollen) is rich in antioxidants and may help improve cholesterol and lower inflammation, so make sure you're getting the real deal. Buy raw 100 percent honey from a local co-op or farm, so you know it's high quality.
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With 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon, relish is literally like adding a teaspoon of sugar to your burger. Another strike against relish: It's loaded with salt to give it that famous savory taste to offset the sweetness of the sugar and sour tang of the pickles. Overall, it's not the greatest addition to your plate.
Use mustard instead. Mustard gets a gold star for basically being a vegetable—yep, you heard it from this dietitian, so tell your friends. Mustard is a close relative to broccoli and kale and serves up a few similar nutrition benefits. Just like its leafy green cousins, mustard contains phytochemicals called glucosinolates that are converted into compounds linked to preventing and fighting cancer. Now there's a condiment worthy of your sandwich.
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Teriyaki sauce is delicious on chicken and fish but tends to be packed with high-fructose corn syrup and sodium galore. Just two tablespoons of teriyaki sauce can take you over your daily sodium limit.
Get that savory "umami" flavor without any sugar by using miso. Choose organic, low-sodium miso to get the health benefits without the salt. Miso is fermented soybean paste that has potential probiotic benefits for a healthy digestive system (like these other good-for-you foods with healthy bacteria). I love this Miso Salmon with Sesame Garlic Bok Choy and Brown Rice.
Regular Barbecue Sauce
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Just one tablespoon of your typical barbecue sauce has 6 grams of sugar. That means your BBQ sauce is basically sugar—which adds up fast when you consider how much you slather over your ribs or chicken.
Solution: Look for barbecue sauce that's made with either less sugar or with stevia. Take a look at the ingredient list and if sugar, molasses, or glucose (or any word ending in "-ose") is listed, put that BBQ sauce back on the shelf and make you own to keep the sugar and salt in check. You can also try this Habanero Barbecue Sauce.
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Coleslaw seems like it should be healthy—cabbage and carrots must be good for you, right? Wrong! It's so loaded up with mayonnaise that at some restaurants, a small serving of coleslaw can have more fat than your burger. Just half a cup of coleslaw adds 150 calories to your meal that you weren't counting on.
But sauerkraut is coleslaw on its best behavior. It doesn't have any fat added to it and offers superfood benefits above and beyond cabbage because it's been fermented. Fermentation makes sauerkraut an excellent source of gut-friendly bacteria. This healthy condiment may help boost your immune system and can improve digestive health thanks to its probiotic effects.
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Check out certain store-bought condiments sold as guacamole and you'll be shocked when "powdered avocado" shows up 17th on the ingredients list. Instead of getting the health benefits of avocado, you're taking in cheap oils, starches, sugars, and artificial flavors and colors. Not the healthy fresh taco topper you were looking for.
Thankfully, guacamole is super easy to make and doing it yourself makes it way cheaper (try the 10 Best Guacamole Recipes). You'll get heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and the antioxidant benefits of vitamin E. Just mash an avocado and add some minced garlic, a tablespoon of lime juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. You can even stir in some jalapeño or hot sauce if you like the spice.
In a pinch, try a packaged version that needs to be refrigerated—a sure sign it's fresher and healthier.