One of the most pervasive dieting fallacies is that a calorie is a calorie. But in reality, 200 calories worth of broccoli does not affect you mentally and physically the way that 200 calories from a candy bar does. A healthy diet is about eating smart—and that requires being just as mindful about quality as it does quantity. But assessing both quality and quantity—especially when it comes to packaged foods—requires close inspection. Case in point: We found 15 sauces that are worse than eating cookies when you consider the ingredients, calories, sugar, fat and/or sodium. Find out if you're sabotaging your healthy foods with diet-obliterating sauces and then discover the 20 Surprising Foods with More Carbs Than a Bowl of Pasta!
How We Ranked Them
Nutrition (3 cookies; 34g): 160 calories, 11 g fat (10 g saturated), 190 mg sodium, 25g carbs, 1 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 1 g protein
Let's use the classic Oreo as our benchmark. First off, one serving is considered three cookies (34 grams). Those three Oreos (we know you're not only have one!) pack in a whopping 11 grams of fat, 10 of which are saturated. Meanwhile, they may be sweet, but they've got 190 milligrams of sodium. If you're wondering how these small cookies can pack a relatively high amount of sodium without tasting salty, the answer is Nabisco has loaded them with so much sugar (14 grams!) that the salt goes undetected. Don't count on much fiber, protein, vitamins, or minerals either. And they don't even have calcium; the white filling is totally deceiving if you thought it was a milk-based calcium-rich center. There is not one healthy, whole food ingredient that goes into an Oreo—but there is plenty of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavor.
So, where does that leave us? Whether it's calorie count, fat, sugar, sodium, or alarming ingredients, here's a look at 15 sauces that are even worse for you than indulging in cookies. And while we aren't only looking at sugar in this instance, sugar has become public enemy #1 because it's making America sick, fat, and addicted to it. That's why Eat This, Not That! creator and best-selling author David Zinczenko just released his latest hit book, Zero Sugar Diet, which will help you crush the cravings and finally flatten your belly.
Kikkoman Sweet Soy Glaze
Nutrition (1 ⅓ TBSP): 40 calories, 0 g fat, 710 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 1 g protein
It's delicious when mixed with some Korean rice cakes and shrimp, but it only takes a tiny bit of this sauce to do some damage to your body. At 9 grams per 20 grams serving (not even two tablespoons), Kikkoman Sweet Soy Glaze is loaded with sugar and packed with even more sodium—710 milligrams! It also has both high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and a long list of potentially bloat-inducing preservatives. Psst! If a ballooned belly seems to plague you, it's time to find out 35 Things That Make You Bloat.
Nutrition (1 TBSP): 20 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 260 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 0 g protein
A1 is a classic. It's mouthwatering and addicting and that is no accident. And while the calories and sugar may not alarm you, it's the sodium that makes it so bad; one serving (listed at just 1 tablespoon) has 260 milligrams! That means you'll consume over 500 if you take the standard two tablespoon serving size (and even that it a lot less than what the average person ends up consuming). While the calories may be low, this sauce also has high-fructose corn syrup in it, which is like begging for belly fat.
Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce
Nutrition (1 TBSP): 15 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated), 400 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 1 g protein
You know things are bad when a sauce doesn't even use butter, but rather butter flavoring. Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce is also loaded with a ridiculously high amount of salt (that's 400 milligrams for one tablespoon!). Plus, it has lecithin in it, which helps give the sauce a mouth-pleasing texture but can cause bloating. If you love buffalo chicken wings, then make sure you check out our exclusive list of America's 18 Worst Restaurant Chicken Wings—Ranked!
Walden Farms Seafood Sauce
Nutrition (2 TBSP): 0 calories, 0 g fat, 290 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein
Food manufacturers are allowed to say something has "0" calories until it breaks the 5-calorie mark. They can also say something is sugar-free and fat-free as long as it has less than 0.5 grams per serving. Don't be fooled by Walden Farms seemingly innocuous label. Not only aren't their sauces (like this seafood one) not completely free of calories, sugar, and fat, they're also loaded with sodium and ingredients like Splenda that have been linked to cancer.
Emeril's Four Cheese Alfredo Sauce
Nutrition (¼ cup): 60 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 330 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 1 g protein
Like many other sauces on this list, the portion size is rather tiny here: just ¼ cup. So, the calories may seem low at first. But note the high sodium and relatively high saturated fat content. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. This sauce is made with inflammatory soybean oil—almost all soy is GMO and loaded with chemicals and pesticides. If you think cheese sauce is code for calcium, note that each serving has a mere 2 percent.
Aunt Jemima Original Syrup
Nutrition (¼ cup): 210 calories, 0 g fat, 120 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (0 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 0 g protein
You may not think of it as a sauce, but we're including it since we know you're pouring it over your pancakes. The serving size seems reasonable, but this anything-but-pure product is packed with more sugar than nearly seven Oreos. Made with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and caramel color, this pantry staple deserves to be banned for life.
Ragu’s Old World Style Marinara Sauce
Nutrition (125g): 80 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 480 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 2 g protein
Marinara sounds so innocuous. What could be harmful about tomatoes? Well, nothing, if your sauce is an actual tomato, herb, and spice-based marinara. Unfortunately, that is not the case with packaged ones like Ragu's Old World Style Marinara Sauce. Full of sugar and salt, they also use more soybean oil than extra virgin olive oil and uses a thickening agent called calcium chloride to make it seem more hearty (rather than using more tomatoes).
Francesco Rinaldi Sausage Sauce
Nutrition (½ cup): 70 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 550 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 3 g protein
Aside from having a mind-boggling amount of sodium, Francesco Rinaldi Sicilian Family Recipe Sausage sauce is made with "Italian sausage" that is not only full of salt but full of sugar.
Taco Bell Bold & Creamy Chipotle Sauce
Nutrition (2 TBSP): 110 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
Taco Bell's Bold & Creamy Chipotle Sauce hits you from nearly all sides; it's high in calories, fat, and sodium while being devoid of fiber and low in protein.
Ken's Steakhouse Ranch Dressing
Nutrition (4 TBSP): 200 calories, 20 g fat (3 g saturated), 280 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
Ken's Steakhouse Ranch Dressing is a loser on nearly every front. The only redeeming quality, if you can call it that, is that it has a gram of protein and a relatively low amount of sugar. But it has 20 grams of fat!
Hidden Valley Sriracha Ranch
Nutrition (2 TBSP): 110 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 320 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 1 g protein
It's no accident that when you head to Hidden Valley's website, the nutrition facts are printed in a font so tiny that they're nearly impossible to read. Their Sriracha Ranch is hiding a ton of calories, fat (the same amount as three Oreos!), and 320 milligrams of sodium.
Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce
Nutrition (1 TBSP): 15 calories, 0 g fat, 1,030 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, < 1 g sugar), 1 g protein
It's not fatty or caloric or even sugary, but the sodium count is totally insane. If you have just two tablespoons of this stuff—a pretty conservative amount for your sushi—you'll have consumed your entire day's worth of sodium.
Sweet Baby Ray's Original Barbecue Sauce
Nutrition (2 TBSP): 70 calories, 0 g fat, 290 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 0 g protein
With more sugar in two tablespoons of this stuff (16 grams) than in three Oreos (14 grams), Sweet Baby Ray's is way too sweet. Loaded with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and then even more corn syrup, they found a few too many ways to pack it in. Yuck!
Louisiana Hot Sauce
Nutrition (1 tsp): 0 calories, 240 mg sodium
Just one teeny tiny teaspoon of this hot sauce has 50 milligrams more sodium than three Oreos. And no, it's not packed with sugar and fat like cookies are, but if you're the type to shake hot sauce all over your eggs, burritos, and so on, you're sadly increasing your risk of a higher blood pressure and heart disease because of all that salt.
Kraft Thousand Island Dressing
Nutrition (2 TBSP): 130 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 270 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 0 g protein
It might not surprise you that this dressing has more fat than a cookie; after all, it is a creamy option. But the worst thing about Kraft's Thousand Island Dressing is that the ingredient most used in the product is soybean oil. As mentioned, most soybeans are genetically engineered, and soybean oil is pure fat (not the good kind!). Soybean oil is primarily omega-6 fat. While we do need some omega-6 fat, the healthy fats you hear about in things like wild salmon, olive oil, and avocado—and the kind that most Americans are deficient in—is omega-3 fat. To better understand your healthy fat choices, check out these 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin!