You may love your salad served with a creamy dressing, or tomato sauce with everything may be your thing. Or it may be that you cannot enjoy your Japanese without lashings of extra sauce or veggies are simply not that tasty without a load of butter. Whatever your favourite condiment or seasoning of choice, it can also be adding in plenty of extra calories to your diet.
So, if you love nothing more than a little sauce or spread to complement your food, here are the not so good, and much better options nutritionally.
The ones to go easy with…
A mix of butter and egg yolk makes this weekend fave come with a hefty dose of saturated fat and the biggest issue is the massive portions that tend to be served with your favourite egg and salmon brunch order. Like any food, rich hollandaise can be enjoyed occasionally in moderation, but limit your portions to 1-2 tablespoons at most, and where possible ask for your sauce to be served on the side of any dishes your order to help aid portion control.
With 8g of fat and almost 100 calories in single tablespoon, while pesto with its bright green colour may appear exceptionally healthy, it is also a calorie bomb and exceptionally easy to overeat.
It is also really important to check your ingredient lists, as most pre-made pesto is made with vegetable oil rather than extra virgin olive oil, which has few if any real health benefits.
With more than 15g of fat in a single tablespoon of full-fat mayonnaise, it can be easy to go overboard with this popular favourite, especially when it is used freely in pre-made salads, wraps and sandwiches. You can find lighter, low-fat mayo alternatives but if you love the real thing, small portions occasionally is the key to avoiding a fat overload.
Seemingly innocent, with minimal calories per serve, it is the massive salt load a single serve of soy sauce has which means it should always be used in moderation.
A single tablespoon of soy sauce contains almost ¾ of your entire daily salt recommendation so seek out salt reduced varieties when you can and always go easy with your serves.
You can be a bit more liberal with…
Extra virgin olive oil
Not only is extra virgin olive oil a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin E, it also makes an extremely healthy salad dressing, even though it is an added fat. Team with vinegar and enjoy a couple of tablespoons each day, for a daily antioxidant boost. Most importantly, seek out Australian extra virgin olive oil as its high quality ensures the nutrient content is protected, even when exposed to heat in roasting and frying.
Often criticised for its high sugar content, while commercial tomato sauce does contain up to 5g of sugars per tablespoon, overall tomato sauce is relatively low in calories and if you opt for the growing range of lower sugar alternatives, is a relatively innocent addition in the diet. The key is to measure portions, especially for children and aim for roughly a tablespoon in total. Tomato sauce is also a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene, known for its benefits for prostate health, so an especially good sauce choice for men.
Tomato salsa is another topping we do not think about a whole lot but it’s exceptionally low in calories, rich in key nutrients including vitamin C and can be used to flavour a range of dishes including Mexican bowls, roasted veggies, lean proteins and seafood and can be used as a low calorie topping with dips, crackers and veggie snacks.
Another sauce you can literally use to your hearts content.
With minimal calories, mustard is a light, tasty spread alternative on sandwiches and wraps; as an accompaniment to meat and chicken; and as a base for tasty, creamy sauces with a fraction of the fat of creamy sauces and dressings.
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.
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