Hidden Calories: 5 High-Calorie Condiments That Add Inches to Your Waistline

istock_000009788664xsmallSometimes it’s not the food that makes you fat but the condiments. Sauces and condiments are tricky. You think you’re eating healthy because you’re eating a bowl of vegetables, but you don’t take into account the tablespoon of butter you doused them in. That extra 100 calories really add up. Sauces also make food taste better, but choose them wisely. Here are five high-calorie condiments and suggestions for waistline-friendly substitutes.

Ranch Dressing

You’re doing a good thing by eating a salad, but you’ll undo some of the benefits if you drown it in ranch dressing. Two tablespoons of this creamy dressing have almost 150 calories. Not to mention the 16 grams of fat. Even worse, most people don’t stop at 2 tablespoons. Other salad dressings to keep at arm’s length include blue cheese and honey mustard. Instead, choose one with only vinegar, oil, and spices that are also low in sugar. Even better, make your own at home. Another option? Skip the salad dressing entirely and spoon salsa onto your salad. A serving of salsa usually has less than 10 calories.


How many healthy sandwiches have been ruined by a generous helping of mayo? Too many to count. Canned tuna is inherently low in calories, but turn it into a tuna salad using mayo, and the calorie count climbs. A tablespoon of mayo has around 100 calories, and a single tablespoon doesn’t go very far. Swap the mayonnaise for Dijon mustard or use hummus or guacamole sauce as a sandwich spread instead. Guacamole is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and a serving has less than half the calories of mayo.

Barbeque Sauce

Barbeque sauce is deceptive. After all, it isn’t cream based. On the other hand, it’s usually loaded with sugar, which boosts the calorie count to as high as 70 calories per 2-tablespoon serving. Better bets are to use mustard, hot sauce or salsa instead. They’re much lower in calories and sugar, but they’re still high in salt, so don’t overdo it.

Tartar Sauce

You knew it had to be bad since it’s made with mayonnaise. A single tablespoon of creamy tartar sauce packs a whopping 75 calories. Fortunately, there are healthier ways to add flavor to fish. Marinate it with a flavorful marinade before cooking it or grill it and serve it with chutney sauce instead. You’ll get the benefits of the healthy fats in the fish without the unhealthy ones in the tartar sauce.


How did the butter substitute, margarine, come to be?  Over 100 years ago, there was a shortage of cows and good pasture land for grazing in Europe. Consequently,   Napoleon III offered a prize to anyone who could come up with a cheap substitute for butter. A French chemist won the price, inventing a product called margarine. He mixed beef fat, sheep stomach, margaric fatty acid, and milk together. It became popular in Europe with those who couldn’t afford the expensive butter.

It’s easy to go overboard with the butter or margarine, and at 100 calories per tablespoon for butter, you can’t afford to. Margarine is not better since some versions contain trans fats. You can buy light and whipped butter that has half the calories of regular butter but focus on adding flavor to your foods by using herbs and spices rather than drowning it in butter. Consider the calories you’ll save.

The Bottom Line?

Go light on these popular condiments, and replace them with lower calorie choices such as mustard, salsa, hot sauce, flavored vinegar and herbs, and spices. You’ll still get the flavor but a lot fewer calories. Don’t let condiment calories add inches to your waistline.



Calorie Count at About.com.


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Add This to Your Next Meal & You Might Make Healthier Food Choices

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