Healthy Condiments to Use When Watching Your Cholesterol Levels

Although some condiments can add flavor to your dish, they can also add fat -- which can cause your cholesterol levels to increase. Inga Nielsen, istockphoto

Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise - these and other tried-and-true condiments are what you usually turn to when you want to add flavor to whatever you are eating. However, when you’re watching your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, some of these ingredients can add extra calories to your diet. Although having high cholesterol doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on tasty dishes, it may mean modifying your intake on certain condiments and toppings you may have previously used in excess in your meals.

 

Condiments and Toppings: Best Bets

Some condiments and toppings are full of flavor - without being high in unhealthy ingredients. Although moderation is important with anything you wish to include in your cholesterol-lowering diet, you can be a little more generous with these ingredients due to the low level of saturated fat, sugar content, and calories they contribute to your meals:

  • Mustard - Most types of mustard, including the traditional yellow mustard and Dijon mustard, are low in fat. They can be used as a condiment or as an ingredient in certain pasta salads or vegetable medleys, if you want to add a little spice to your meal. Mustard is also low in calories, which makes it the perfect go-to condiment if you’re watching your weight. Honey mustard may be higher in sugar in comparison to other types of mustard-based condiments, so you should watch how much honey mustard you add to your foods.
  • Vinegar - Commonly used in cooking, vinegar is often added to salads and sandwiches for flavor. There are many varieties of vinegar available, including white wine, Balsalmic, and cider vinegar - all of which are low in calories and saturated fat.
  • Salsa - Fresh salsa is also a perfect add-on to many types of foods, including salads and sandwiches - or it can even be consumed alone. Not only does it contain many types of vegetables, it's also low in calories. Although you can also purchase salsa at your local grocery store, you should check the ingredients label on the packaging to make sure that it doesn’t have extra sugar or salt added to it.
  • Horseradish - Made from the root of the horseradish plant and vinegar, horseradish is commonly added to sandwiches and certain meats. This ingredient is typically low in fat and cholesterol, but you should always consult the food labels, because some versions of horseradish may contain mayonnaise or cream, which can add extra saturated fat to the condiment. Horseradish with these ingredients will usually state the word “creamy” on the label.
  • Worcestershire sauce – This tasty condiment is usually added to meats and sandwiches, as well as to soups, to lend a little flavor. Usually, this sauce is low in calories, sugar, and fat - making it the perfect addition if you’re looking to add a little more taste to your meal. However, some manufacturers may sneak extra sugar and salt into some of these sauces, so make sure that you check the food label before purchasing.

Condiments and Toppings You Should Limit

Although some condiments are low in fat, others may contain higher amounts of saturated fat and sugar, all of which can heap on extra calories to your diet - especially if you’re accustomed to adding large amounts of these condiments to your meals.

The following condiments should be limited in your heart-healthy diet. 

  • Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise is one of the more commonly used spreads on sandwiches. It contains oil, which can add fat and calories to your meal. Mayonnaise also serves as a base for cream-based condiments, such as tartar sauce and creamy dressings, such as Ranch or Thousand Island. There are low-fat varieties of mayonnaise available, but these could also contain more sugar than their high-fat counterparts.
  • Ketchup – This condiment has a lot of potential, but can introduce additional sugar to your diet, depending upon which brand you use. When selecting a ketchup product, make sure that you read the package labeling. Although ketchup usually does not contain fat, it can contain high amounts of salt and sugar or corn syrup, which could affect your lipids. When in doubt, you could also make your own ketchup sauce from scratch, a healthier alternative that is equally delicious.
  • Gravy – Gravies can be prepared from the juices of the meat you are cooking at home, or they can be bought at your grocery store. In any case, gravy should not be consumed in large amounts due to their saturated fat content. There are low-fat variations of gravy available if you're looking for a gravy that is lower in fat and calories. Additionally, mushroom gravy is lower in calories and saturated fat in comparison to chicken and beef varieties.

     

This isn’t an all-inclusive list, so if your favorite condiment or topping is not included, always make sure to consult the food label on the back of the package to check fat, carbohydrate, and caloric content.

Sources:

Whitney EN and Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition. 13th edition, 2012.

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