The Condiment Quandary – What Are The Healthiest Condiments?

A cup of mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup next to a cloth and a few drops of pepper.

Yesterday, as I was slapping together a wicked grilled cheese sandwich, I caught myself reading the list of ingredients on the back of my bottle of Ketchup. I was shocked by how much sugar was in the delightful condiment, and it got me wondering about all of the other condiments I use in my sandwiches. This triggered the question in my mind: What are the healthiest condiments?

I wanted to make sure I was cooking with only the best condiments, so my quest for knowledge has led me to find out the following facts:


A wavy line of ketchup.

Ketchup — that deliciously sweet condiment that makes French fries a temptation that’s hard to pass up on. Great with anything cheesy, ketchup is a condiment that is found everywhere!

Ketchup has 15 calories per tablespoon, but it has 3.4 grams of sugar and a whopping 167 milligrams of sodium in that small amount. While it may not be the highest in calories, it’s definitely has a lot more sugar than I can add to my diet.

It turns out that ketchup also has xanthan gum added to it, and it’s this gum that gives it the viscous texture that makes it so easy to spread.

Best or Worst: It’s definitely gunning for the spot as one of the least healthy condiments!

Did You Know: Ketchup was originally made by the Chinese in the 1600s, and it had spices and pickled fish. The tomato-based version of the sauce only came around in the late 1700s.


Close-up of a cup of mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise is a condiment that goes well on just about any sandwich, and it has a rich flavor that helps to bring out the tastes of all the other condiments and ingredients. If you spread mayo before grilling your bread, it will make your sandwich absolutely fantastic.

Mayonnaise has 57 calories per tablespoon, but it has almost 5 grams of fat, 4 milligrams of cholesterol, and 105 milligrams of sodium. You can buy light and fat free variations, but they just don’t have the same flavor — they’re actually quite awful.

Best or Worst: Mayo has a lot of fat and cholesterol, but it isn’t as bad as ketchup.

BBQ Sauce

Grilled meat next to a cup of BBQ sauce.

BBQ sauce is just what you need to make a delicious rack of ribs, and they make those hot wings absolutely fantastic. If the meat is red, drenching it in this sauce is the American way.

BBQ sauce has about 30 calories per tablespoon, but there’s 6 grams of sugar and 175 milligrams of sodium in the delicious, smoky sauce.

Best or Worst: The high sugar content means that it’s another one of those sauces that I’m going to have to pass up on.

Make Your Own Low Sugar BBQ Sauce


  • Tomato sauce
  • Diced onions and garlic
  • Chipotle peppers
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper

Put these ingredients in a saucepan to heat, and drop in a pinch of sugar to give it the sweetness you want. Add a few sprinkles of the secret ingredient: Tabasco.

Bring it to a boil, let it cook for 10 minutes, and serve your healthy, homemade BBQ sauce.

Did You Know: What most people know as BBQ sauce is nothing like the real deal. East Carolina BBQ Sauce is made with red pepper, vinegar, and ground black pepper; Memphis BBQ Sauce has vinegar, black and red pepper, tomato sauce, and molasses; Texas BBQ Sauce has chili powder, cumin, bell peppers, onion, black pepper, and a hint of tomato; Alabama White BBQ Sauce is made with mayo, vinegar, salt, and black pepper.


A cup of mustard.

Mustard is a condiment as I’ve always loved, as my French mother taught me to enjoy that spicy Dijon that she brought back from her visit to France. The yellow stuff sold in supermarkets is passable, but there’s nothing like real mustard to make a killer Croque-monsieur.

Yellow mustard has just 3 calories per tablespoon, and it has just 0.2 grams of fat, no sugar, and 57 milligrams of sodium. Grey Poupon mustard has just 5 calories per tablespoon, no fat or sugar, and 120 milligrams of sodium.

Best or Worst: Mustard is one of the healthiest condiments around, hands down!

Did You Know: Spicy mustard can give your metabolism a boost, and eating hot mustard will help you to burn up to 25% more energy. Want to lose weight and burn fat after your meal? Suck down that spicy mustard — and make sure it’s the kind that has the chili powder and mustard seeds added for extra kick!

Hot Sauces

A cup of hot sauce with a piece of chili pepper.

I’m a huge hot sauce lover, and not a meal goes by that I don’t break out one of two hot sauces:


If it’s tomato-based, made with eggs, contains cheese, or once went “Moo”, “Oink”, or “Cluck-Cluck”, it’s going to get some Tabasco sauce on it. There’s no fat, sugar, or calories in the sauce, but it does have 30 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon. The capsaicin gives a metabolism boost, and the vinegar-flavored hot sauce is the best!


The Oatmeal expounds on the virtue of this delicious sauce, which hails from the exotic country of Thailand. Each teaspoon has just 5 calories, no fat, and a single gram of carbs. It’s another hot sauce I just can’t live without!

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