As some of the most versatile food items in existence, condiments are as underrated for their essential role in kitchens’ worldwide as they are for their lack of positive nutritional significance. In order to help justify a frivolous thought regarding which of the US’s most popular condiments are least harmful for you, I’ve constructed a comparison, which incorporates important factors in a healthy diet and lifestyle, including sodium, calorie content, and price. The four following condiments will be placed under a scale of scrutiny, comparing levels of varying ingredients measured within a tablespoon format—which, for the sake of efficiency, will be titled “PT”.
Notes prior to examination: the most popular condiment brands will be used as mascots. Heinz, Hidden Valley, and Sweet Baby Rays will represent Ketchup/Mustard, Ranch, and Barbecue, respectively. The criteria for ranking will mean that low levels of cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, price-per ounce, and sodium will all be merits.
Mustard: 0 calories, 10.15oz per dollar.
Saturated fat: 0
Sodium: 160 mg
Zero calories, no sugar, no saturated fat; mustard ranked first as the condiment edition’s best of the worst things for you. The only real problem it contains is its level of sodium, which is technically higher than any other condiment on the list. However, mustard’s sharp flavor ensures that consumers don’t eat very much of it. So realistically, considering how much flavor and personality it adds to dishes for such small samples, it is probably the most cost-efficient and lowest-sodium condiment on the list.
Ketchup: 20 calories, 12.75oz per dollar.
Saturated fat: 0
Despite the package’s recommended serving being a tablespoon, you’ll undoubtedly squeeze a minimal two tablespoons across your next corn-dog without even noticing. It’s sodium levels make it a sufficient essential oils extract; however, it does deserve credit for it’s modest calorie count.
Barbecue: 35 calories, 10.4oz per dollar.
Saturated fat: 0
Barbecue sauce is like ketchup on steroids—stronger and darker in flavor, it has twice the level of sugar, 75 percent more calories, and it’s more expensive. Also, barbecue’s portion size is twice that of ketchups. However, there is one health factor that barbecue takes into comparatively safer consideration—it surprisingly has 15 less milligrams of sodium.
Ranch: 70 calories, 6.1oz per dollar
Saturated fat: 1.3g
Ranch has a special place amongst the condiment family, because it can very easily be passed off as a part of salad despite blatantly holding detrimental nutritional flaws. Also to it’s credit, sodium’s portion is lower than barbecues’ and ketchup’s, and it’s sugar content is low. However, ranch is the only condiment on this list to contain cholesterol and saturated fat—two ingredients that modern science has shown lead to heart disease and cancer (US’s top killers). In addition, ranch damages something even more important than your heart—your wallet, as it’s almost twice as expensive as barbecue. And don’t bother opting for Hidden Valley’s healthier “fat-free” ranch, because it just tastes terrible.*
Highest sodium levels: (Technically) Mustard
Fattiest, heart-killer-iest, and most expensive per ounce: Ranch
Most Sugary: Barbecue
Most cost-efficient: Ketchup
Website used to determine top selling brands: Statistica.com
Website used to determine nutritional facts: calorieking.com
Website used to determine condiment costs: walmart.com
*Note that no professional ratings were used to determine fat-free ranch’s deplorable taste profile.