Condiments enhance the flavor of any food. They add flavor, color, juiciness, texture and visual appeal. Whether it’s a sauce or spread, dip or dressing, pickle or preserve, condiments complement the food on the plate.
But it’s easy to forget that not all condiments are “free.” They contain calories and carbohydrates that must be taken into account in the nutritional planning of meals.
Examples of those that don’t contain carbs might include lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegar, and dill pickle relish. However, most common condiments have carbohydrates and should be taken into account when planning meals.
For people with any type of diabetes, paying attention to condiments is an important part of managing a meal plan and knowing how they affect our blood glucose levels.
Condiments mainly add carbohydrates and fats to what you eat. Both macronutrients have a direct effect on glucose levels, either by breaking down into glucose or slowing digestion, both affect blood sugars.
That’s why it’s helpful to understand how many grams of carbohydrates and fat are in any condiment you eat. For store-bought seasonings, the Nutrition facts label is a reliable source of this information.
If you don’t have a specific brand in mind but want to get an idea of a condiment’s general nutritional information, the NutritionalValue.org website has a searchable database of nutritional information presented as Nutrition Facts labels.
Unless there is a specific diagnosed medical reason, such as an allergy or gluten intolerance, no food is prohibited under current dietary guidelines.
However, actively managing the amount of carbohydrates and fats you eat is an important part of managing diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Renal Diseases.
If you have diabetes, this means you have to choose when to eat a particular food or condiment, how much to eat, and whether you want to eat a substitute.
Yes, a person with diabetes can eat mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise has less than one gram of carbohydrates per tablespoon. But with 10 grams of total fat (1.6 grams of which come from saturated fat) it can be considered high in fat. So you may want to limit the amount of mayonnaise you eat or find an alternative.
Here are a couple of alternatives to consider:
- Raw avocado, which has just under one gram of carbohydrates and 1.5 grams of total fat in one tablespoon.
- Low-fat plain Greek yogurt, which has 0.4 grams of carbohydrates and 0.2 grams of total fat per 10 grams
Mustard comes in many varieties, from standard yellow to tangy brown. It’s generally low in carbohydrates and adds a lot of flavor without raising blood glucose levels.
However, because of the variety of ingredients that can be incorporated into mustard, it is important to check the nutritional information of the specific mustard being used.
One tablespoon of prepared yellow mustard contains 0.6 grams of carbohydrates per 10-gram serving, or 1 tablespoon. Dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard, and whole grain mustard have 0 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. However, honey mustard dressing has 3.6 to 6.0 grams of carbohydrates in each tablespoon serving.
Yes. with ketchup, the concern might not be the seasoning itself but the amount eaten. One tablespoon of ketchup has just under 5 grams of carbohydrates. But who eats just one spoonful?
There is also tomato sauce with no added sugar. It contains only 10 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving, making it a great alternative for people living with diabetes.
With soy sauce, the concern is not the carbohydrates (less than 1 gram per tablespoon) but the sodium (salt). A single tablespoon of regular soy sauce contains 879 milligrams of sodium. That’s 38% of the daily amount for someone eating 2,000 calories a day.
Some people use Worcestershire sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos as substitutes because they have 0 carbs. There are also lower sodium versions of soy sauce. But all of these versions of soy sauce still contain a lot of sodium per tablespoon.
People with diabetes, like many people around the world, often turn to different spices to add a little extra flavor or character to what they eat.
Spices are good for people with diabetes. In fact, 2019 research shows that some spices actually help lower glucose levels and improve overall diabetes management.
In a Research article 2019, scientists state the following: “Conventional dietary methods to treat (diabetes mellitus) include the use of herbs and/or culinary spices. Spices have long been known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties. This review explores the antidiabetic properties of commonly used spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cumin, and the use of these spices for the prevention and management of diabetes and associated complications .
However, while 2017 research notes that cinnamon and other spices have benefits for diabetes, the American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Care 2022 notes that there is insufficient evidence to support the routine use of herbal and micronutrient supplements in the care of diabetes Research conflicts and more science are needed, the guide says.
As with anything consumed, the calorie and carb count of any condiment or spice is still an important factor.
The great advantage of using homemade sauces, spreads, dips, dressings, pastas and more is that you know the ingredients and the amounts that went into making them.
There are no hidden ingredients that cause surprising spikes in blood glucose. And you have the opportunity to substitute ingredients that are easier for glucose to manage.
Sauces are sometimes viewed with suspicion, especially when the ingredients are unknown. It can be difficult to know the amount of carbohydrates (or sodium or fat) and predict the effect on glucose levels.
The possibilities seem endless.
Condiments are not prohibited for people with diabetes. However, like any food or drink, they can contain calories and carbohydrates and should be taken into account when planning meals.
The condiments we choose can affect glucose levels, which play an important role in diabetes management. Making sure you know the nutritional information on any condiment, including carbohydrates, fat and sodium, is key to deciding what’s best for you.