Sneaky food additives are everywhere in our food system, and condiments are one of the biggest culprits. If you’re watching your blood sugar, you’ll want to check your dressings for large amounts of added sugars, carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats.
Checking nutrition labels is one of the easiest ways to spot added sugars in the diet. The new, updated nutrition labels now make it easier than ever with an “added sugar” line on the nutrition facts to decipher exactly how much of the sugar is naturally occurring versus added.
The 2022 Dietary Guidelines suggest that added sugars should only be a small part of our diet, with up to 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. If you broke up the total added sugar amount per meal, that would be roughly 8-12 grams of added sugar or less per meal.
Over the course of the day, this amounts to about 100 to 150 calories per day coming from added sugars. With products like salad dressing, which often comes with sugar, sodium, and oil to make it taste more delicious, these calories can stack up quickly.
In moderation, all types of salad dressings and condiments can fit into your health goals, but be sure to pay attention to portion size, consider making your own salad dressing at home where you can control the ingredients, or look for options that are low in added sugar.
Here are five salad dressings dietitians say you may want to reconsider if you’re watching your blood sugar levels. And for more tips on managing your blood sugar, check out The 4 Worst Condiments for Blood Sugar.
Per 2 tablespoons: 110 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (0 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 1 g protein
This dressing appears healthy at first glance with its versatile use in many different types of dishes. However, Italian dressing is oftentimes just as high in sugar and fat as other types like honey mustard or French.
Consider making your own Italian dressing at home with a simple mix of olive oil, vinegar, and Italian spices. At home, you can control how much sugar and sodium your dressing has as well as the type of healthy fat you choose. I love olive oil or avocado oil for a homemade salad dressing recipe that’s also healthy for your blood sugar!
Per 2 tablespoons: 130 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 0 g protein
Although this dressing may give you a sense of nostalgia, it’s not doing your blood sugar any favors. This kid favorite is oftentimes packed with fats and sugars that may keep your blood sugar elevated long after eating.
The fat in dressing slows down digestion and can prolong blood sugar highs if consumed with other high-carb foods. For example, in Ken’s Steak House Honey Mustard, a two-tablespoon serving packs 11 grams of fat and 6 grams of added sugar. For portion size reference, 2 tablespoons is equivalent to about the size of a ping pong ball.
So when you consider how many servings you’re using at one meal, it may be upwards of two or three times the recommended amount.
Per 2 tablespoons: 60 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (0 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 0 g protein
Here’s an example of healthy-appearing products that may have some sneaky sugars. Kathryn Bonilla Strickland, RDN, Plant-Centered Dietitian tells us, “This salad dressing is organic with no synthetic colors, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives.” She continues, “However, it contains 8 grams of added sugar in a two-tablespoon serving size. Don’t let an organic label fool you into thinking a salad dressing is healthy and low in sugar for a person with diabetes.”
Per 1 slice: 100 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (0 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 0 g protein
Light or diet products do not always mean that the product is low in sugar, fat, or calories. This product is a great example of how sometimes removing oil from the product to make it lighter, means that the company may add back other ingredients for flavor. In this case with Ken’s Steak House Lite Country French, they increased the sugar content after removing the fat.
Morgaine G Sciaudone, RDN LDNfounder of Nutrition with Morgaine LLC explains, “This is another great example of how important it is to read the Nutrition Facts panel. Even though Ken’s Lite Country French is marketed as ‘Lite,’ it is not the most nutritious option.”
She states, “The first and most prominent ingredient in this dressing is sugar. There are 10 grams of added sugar per serving! This is almost half of our daily added sugar limits and that’s if you stick to the two-tablespoon serving size.”
Per 1 slice: 100 calories, 7 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 310 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (0 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 0 g protein
Brianna’s dressings may appear healthy, but one dietitian offers a word of caution. She reminds us that added sugars can directly impact blood sugar and cause high blood glucose levels after eating.
Anya Rosen, MS, RD, LD, IFNCP, CPT explains why she cautions against Brianna’s salad dressing: “Salad dressings with added sugars can contribute to a blood sugar spike. Brianna’s dressings are sweetened with honey. I recommend looking for no added sugar on the label.”
This isn’t to say that you can never eat these salad dressings, but dressings with higher levels of added sugar can cause your blood sugar to quickly spike, which may be an issue for those that need to monitor their levels. So if you want to indulge in these, just make sure to watch your serving sizes. Or, try making your own at home so you can control the amount of sugar yourself.