A lot of us think we are watching what we eat. That might be counting calories (a fool’s errand, but not the topic of this post), or maybe we’re on the Atkins diet or, if you’re an AskDrErnst patient, you’ll be doing the ketogenic diet.
But while most of us are very careful about watching our grains or making sure we get enough fats, we tend to neglect the “extras.” And one of those is the sauces and condiments we use–but these can quickly derail your efforts. What follows is a look at five of the most popular condiments and how they might not be the best decision for your health.
If you take a look at the ingredients of your nearest bottle of Heinz ketchup, you’ll notice something a bit… disturbing.
While the first (and thus most abundant) ingredient is expected–tomato concentrate from red rip tomatoes–and the second ingredient makes sense (distilled vinegar), it’s the third that causes the most pause: high fructose corn syrup. This is effectively sugar, which is bad enough, but having come from corn, it means that it is genetically modified, which comes with its own set of health risks.
Furthermore, the distilled vinegar used in many ketchups is also made from GM corn. And the salt (the fifth ingredient) is bleached sodium chloride, which is the bad sort of salt as opposed to natural sea salts (which are very good for you).
In essence, Heinz ketchup is going to contribute to everything from diabetes to obesity to autoimmune conditions to cancer.
There are organic, natural ketchups. Sure, you’ll pay a bit more, but you can rest assured the produce used to make them aren’t GM, there is little-to-no sugar and the vinegar is legitimate un-distilled, non-GMO vinegar. One example would be Annie’s organic ketchup, or you could just make your own.
Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
The first, and most abundant ingredient in this popular BBQ sauce is high fructose corn syrup. That means it is primarily made from sugar–from GM corn at that! After that, we see distilled vinegar again, followed closely by modified corn starch. You’re looking at the trifecta of GM corn sugars.
With two tablespoons of this stuff, adding in the total carbohydrates, you’re getting 33 grams of sugar. That’s significantly more than is recommended for an entire day, even by the FDA (12 grams per day recommendation), and we’ve already discussed the problems with all of these corn products.
A much healthier, but no less delicious version would be Annie’s Homegrown BBQ sauce.
Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
Ranch dressing outsells any other type of salad dressing in the U.S. by almost double. To say it’s popular is an understatement. It’s also disturbingly unhealthy.
Ranch in general is about half mayonnaise and half buttermilk with a few spices thrown in for good measure. The buttermilk is NOT grass fed, meaning it’s going to be full of antibiotics, hormones and the product of a pesticide-soaked grain diet.
But the real problem is the mayonnaise, where the main ingredient is vegetable oil–and that mostly means soybean oil and/or canola oil.
Canola and soybean oils in the U.S. are almost certain to be genetically modified and grown with glyphosate pesticides. Beyond that, the overabundance of Omega 9 fatty acids in the standard American diet (SAD), in large part due to the prevalence of canola oil, is causing everything from kidney disease to heart disease to stroke. And it even stunts growth in children and teenagers.
It’s best to skip ranch dressing altogether. If you’re looking for a healthy salad dressing, your best bet is a nice olive oil and vinegar dressing with organic versions of both. If you have to buy a dressing at the store, give Bragg’s Organic Vinaigrette a try.
Heinz yellow mustard
Mustard in general is going to be one of your safer condiments. Nevertheless, the apparent need for food companies to tamper with centuries-old recipes and add sugar is astounding.
America’s best-selling mustard is Heinz yellow mustard, which contains (again) distilled vinegar and bleached sodium chloride.
For a no-guilt mustard, give Simply Organic mustard a try.
Salsa is America’s favorite condiment, and Tostito’s is their brand of choice.
Interestingly, the ingredients themselves are not TOO bad. Naturally, Tostito’s is not going to opt to pay a bit more for organic veggies and tomatoes, so you know you’re getting pesticides and GM products with this salsa, but it’s surprisingly devoid of additives and has no added sugar.
Nevertheless, it’s best to keep things organic, so if you’re looking for a healthier salsa, try Green Mountain Gringo.