3 Condiment Considerations For Healthy Choices

by Lisa McCune, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN

Last Updated: April 19, 2021

Grilling season is upon us, and we will likely be reaching for sauces like ketchup and barbeque to “dress up” our meals! Condiments are a great way to add or enhance flavor and texture to meals, making them more appealing and interesting to eat. Sauces, condiments, and spreads can be nutritious additions to our meals, especially when fruits or vegetables are the base. However, they can also be a vehicle for surprisingly high amounts of added sugar, sodium, and calories, depending on the type of sauce you choose. When choosing a sauce, condiment, or spread for your next cookout, keep these three tips in mind to make healthier choices.
  1. Added Sugar
    A diet high in added sugar has been linked to an increased risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Check out the latest recommendations for daily intake of added sugar here. Added sugar can show up on a nutrition label in as many as 60 different words, making it hard to spot! Look for words that end in -ose or contain syrup in the name, like high fructose corn syrup, for example. Common culprits of added sugar are barbeque sauces, teriyaki sauces, and salad dressings. Look for oil and vinegar-based sauces and dressings rather than sauces or dressings labeled with words like “sweet,” “honey,” or fruit-flavored.
  2. Sodium
    Eating a diet lower in sodium can benefit everyone’s health, especially those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. The daily recommendation for sodium is 2,300 mg/day, but the average American consumes over 3,000 mg/day. Typical soy sauces contain over 900 mg of sodium for just 1 tablespoon. To keep the sodium lower, look for sauces and condiments labeled “Low Sodium” or “No Added Salt” like Heinz No Salt Added Tomato Ketchup or considered DIY sauces and condiments like this Asian Inspired Low-Sodium Marinade.
  3. Calories
    Being aware of the suggested serving size per nutrition label is a smart way to keep calories in check. Staying around 50-100 calories per serving per meal is a good rule of thumb. Vinegar, mustard, hot sauce, lemon juice, and salsa are very low-calorie choices. Choosing yogurt-based dressings/spreads rather than mayonnaise or sour cream-based is another calorie-saving tip. When choosing higher calorie condiments, focus on the quality of calories by selecting options that contain healthy fats like olive oil and avocados. These provide heart-healthy benefits and help keep us full longer. They are higher calorie, but we will most likely eat less overall due to feeling more satisfied.

Try these easy Kroger dietitian DIY Favorites:

Tahini Dressing or Dip
  • Plain Greek yogurt + tahini + lemon juice + cumin + garlic

Use as a salad dressing, condiment for a wrap, veggie dip, or a sauce on a cooked protein.

Egg Salad/Tuna Salad/Chicken Salad Dressing
  • Avocado, mashed + light mayo + lemon juice + garlic + salt/pepper + optional: pickle relish or chopped bread & butter pickles or fresh herbs (cilantro or parsley)

Use to make your favorite sandwich filling.

Teriyaki Sauce
  • Light soy sauce + brown sugar + rice vinegar + corn flour to thicken. Add orange juice in place of vinegar for a twist.

Use as a stir fry sauce with protein, vegetables, and rice or as a marinade or topping for protein. This sauce goes great with salmon, tofu, tempeh, shrimp, chicken, or pork.

Kroger Dietitian Picks-Prepared:
Including condiments in our diet can be a fun way to eat more flavorful food and reap some health benefits too! Whether we are choosing prepared options bought at the store or making our own condiments, keeping added sugar, sodium and calories in mind can keep us healthy. Use Kroger’s free app, OptUp, to simplify choosing healthy condiments or schedule a free telenutrition appointment with one of our Kroger dietitians for more personalized nutrition recommendations.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Lisa McCune, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN

Lisa McCune, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN

Teaching people about the positive things that food can do for the mind, body and spirit, and helping them understand that all foods can fit into a healthy diet is Lisa’s nutrition philosophy. She believes food should be exciting and fun! Lisa encourages celebration of non-scale victories, which focus on what good nutrition can do for your life beyond weight. She loves food, but also loves to break a sweat whether it’s cycling, walking her dog or doing CrossFit.