Healthy Condiments: A Guide to Reading Food Labels

Can’t live without your condiments? Learn how to spot healthy food labels so you don’t have to.

BY VICKI MARTINEZ


 
 

“I never eat food that is boring or bland,” says Mark Sisson, author of several New York Times best-selling health books, including The Keto Reset Diet (Harmony, 2017), and founder of Primal Kitchen. “Life is too short to not enjoy your food!” Sisson, who follows a lower-carb way of eating, is a staunch believer that healthy food can and should be delicious. His number one tip for jazzing up his favorite recipes: add healthy condiments.

To guarantee you’re using the healthiest condiments, it’s best to perfect the art of reading food labels.

Let’s start by looking at ingredients to avoid.


 

 

Not-So Healthy Condiments

Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a database called “Substances Added to Food” (formerly called “Everything Added to Food in the United States”)? There are more than 4,000 items on this list. Many are ingredients you have in your pantry—salt, yeast, baking soda and vanilla extract, for example. The list also includes ingredients like butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), monosodium glutamate (MSG) and azodicarbonamide (ADA). The latter are far more numerous than the former. With so many food additives (all approved for use by the FDA), it's imperative to know how to read food labels for healthy eating.

A rule of thumb when reading food labels is to look at the first ingredient listed. This is the ingredient that makes up the bulk of the condiment. With all the bad publicity it's recently received, you'd think high-fructose corn syrup was all but gone from grocery store shelves. Yet, it’s the number-one ingredient in many ketchups, barbecue sauces and salad dressings.

Following are common condiment additives. If you see some (or any) of these ingredients on the ingredient list, consider it a red flag, affirming that you're not reading a healthy food label.

  • Sweeteners: high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, sucralose
  • Preservatives: EDTA (calcium disodium), potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate
  • Thickeners: carrageenan
  • Flavor enhancers: MSG, disodium guanylate
  • Firming agents: calcium chloride
  • Coloring: yellow #5, red #40, blue #1
  • Fat replacers (often found in low-fat foods): cellulose gum, modified food starch (also a potential source of gluten)

 

 

Not-So Healthy Condiments

Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a database called “Substances Added to Food” (formerly called “Everything Added to Food in the United States”)? There are more than 4,000 items on this list. Many are ingredients you have in your pantry—salt, yeast, baking soda and vanilla extract, for example. The list also includes ingredients like butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), monosodium glutamate (MSG) and azodicarbonamide (ADA). The latter are far more numerous than the former. With so many food additives (all approved for use by the FDA), it's imperative to know how to read food labels for healthy eating.

A rule of thumb when reading food labels is to look at the first ingredient listed. This is the ingredient that makes up the bulk of the condiment. With all the bad publicity it's recently received, you'd think high-fructose corn syrup was all but gone from grocery store shelves. Yet, it’s the number-one ingredient in many ketchups, barbecue sauces and salad dressings.

Following are common condiment additives. If you see some (or any) of these ingredients on the ingredient list, consider it a red flag, affirming that you're not reading a healthy food label.

  • Sweeteners: high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, sucralose
  • Preservatives: EDTA (calcium disodium), potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate
  • Thickeners: carrageenan
  • Flavor enhancers: MSG, disodium guanylate
  • Firming agents: calcium chloride
  • Coloring: yellow #5, red #40, blue #1
  • Fat replacers (often found in low-fat foods): cellulose gum, modified food starch (also a potential source of gluten)
 

 

In Search of Healthy Condiments

With all the bad ingredients out there, is it possible to find healthy condiments? You bet!

“Dressings and sauces are the easiest way to turn a basic salad or a plain chicken breast into something you’re actually excited to eat,” says Sisson. “No surprise, my number-one tip is to add flavor using condiments.”

Healthy condiments:

  • Use olive or avocado oil as a base, rather than vegetable, canola or soybean oils
  • Contain real-food ingredients
  • Use combinations of natural spices to create better, fresher-tasting condiments instead of synthetic flavoring
  • Add natural color, using vegetable juices, purees or powders
  • Consist of high-quality organic ingredients

Healthy Food Label Tip: To be certified as organic, a condiment must be made from 95 percent organically produced ingredients.

The great news is healthy condiments CAN taste good. Ready to taste some of the most flavorful and healthiest condiments on the market? Start with these:


 

 

In Search of Healthy Condiments

With all the bad ingredients out there, is it possible to find healthy condiments? You bet!

“Dressings and sauces are the easiest way to turn a basic salad or a plain chicken breast into something you’re actually excited to eat,” says Sisson. “No surprise, my number-one tip is to add flavor using condiments.”

Healthy condiments:

  • Use olive or avocado oil as a base, rather than vegetable, canola or soybean oils
  • Contain real-food ingredients
  • Use combinations of natural spices to create better, fresher-tasting condiments instead of synthetic flavoring
  • Add natural color, using vegetable juices, purees or powders
  • Consist of high-quality organic ingredients

Healthy Food Label Tip: To be certified as organic, a condiment must be made from 95 percent organically produced ingredients.

The great news is healthy condiments CAN taste good. Ready to taste some of the most flavorful and healthiest condiments on the market? Start with these:

 
 

Primal Kitchen Mayo

Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing

Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil

Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing

 
 

Primal Kitchen
Mayo
with avocado oil

Shop now >

Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing
with avocado Oil

Shop now >

Primal Kitchen Cooking Oil
avocado oil

Shop now >

Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing
with avocado oil

Shop now >

 
 

Primal Kitchen Mayo

Primal Kitchen
Mayo
with avocado oil

Shop now >

Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing

Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing
with Avocado Oil

Shop now >

Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil

Primal Kitchen Cooking Oil
avocado oil

Shop now >

Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing

Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing
with avocado oil

Shop now >

 
 

“That’s why I set out to create Primal Kitchen, the world’s best-tasting, real-food pantry staples,” says Sisson. “No processed or artificial ingredients, no added sugars, partially hydrogenated or trans fats, soybean or canola oils. No artificial flavors, colors, dyes, waxes or chemical preservatives. Just. Real. Food.”

 
 



HEALTHY KETO RECIPES


 
 



Sponsored by
Primal Kitchen Logo

 

Share this Post

Comments

Leave a Reply