Do You Know What is In Your Food? Part 5 of 6
Part 5 will cover miscellaneous sweet foods enjoyed by all – specifically, jam and jelly, syrup, honey, sugar substitutes and nut butter. Parts 3 through 6 aim to help you critically read food labels and ingredient lists so that you may select the product that best fits your needs. Nutrition tips and names of some recommended food brands will also be provided.
Especially for those people that have sensitive GI tracts, food allergies, the hope is that this will provide guidance on which brands may best suit you.
Part 5 – Jam & Jelly, Nut Butters, Chocolate and Condiments
Jam and jelly come in a wide range of varieties. To determine what you are getting, be sure to read the labels. Jams have fruit pieces; jellies do not. Ingredients you may wish to avoid in jam, jelly or syrup include corn syrup (GMO); high fructose corn syrup; sucralose; potassium sorbate and added sugars. Ingredients that are acceptable include citric acid, fruit pectin, and fruit juice concentrate. For those with sensitive GI tracts or food allergies, organic brands may be beneficial.
Recommended jam and jelly brands:
Crofters; Good Good Sweet Raspberry or Strawberry Jam (keto friendly – no added sugar).
Recommended syrup brands:
Sweet Leaf Sugar Free; Maple Valley; Field Day Organic; and Nu Naturals Maple Syrup; Blackstrap Molasses (added benefit – lots of nutrients).
When it comes to honey, there are 3 basic kinds: raw honey, regular honey, and pure honey. Raw honey comes straight from the hive and is available in filtered or unfiltered forms. Many believe it has immune-boosting and anticancer benefits. Regular honey is pasteurized (which can kill valuable nutrients) and may contain added sugars. Pure honey is pasteurized but contains no added sugars.
Recommended honey brands:
Local brands: Wolf Honey Farm (Extra Virgin) and Home Sweet Homestead.
There are so many nut butters to choose from: peanut butter, cashew, almond, macadamia nut and sunflower seed. The amount of sugar added to any one of these nut butters varies greatly, so be sure to read the labels. Also, in the ingredient list, be aware of partially hydrogenated oils, which are a form of unhealthy trans fats.
Recommended nut butter brands:
Goodlite Peanut Butter (no added sugar); Justin’s; Woodstock (Non-GMO) Almond Butter; Artisanna Organics; Once Again; Field Day.
Chocolate will vary greatly in flavor and sweetness depending upon what percentage of cocoa it contains. Typically, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sugar in the chocolate. Milk chocolate has 10% cocoa, whereas dark chocolate ranges from 50-90% cocoa.
Recommended chocolate brands:
Justin’s; Lily; Hu; Lara Bars (only 2 ingredients).
Next, let us review the condiments ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, sauces, oils, mayonnaise, stocks or broths, salt, spices, and Asian.
Ketchup is often packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and salt. While a single tablespoon of ketchup may not be too bad, piling on the ketchup could easily result in an overload of sodium and sugar. Read the amount of total and added sugars per serving in the nutrition label (4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar).
Recommended ketchup brands:
Woodstock-organic; Chosen Foods; True Made Ketchup and BBQ Sauce (no sugar); Field Day.
With 7 calories per tablespoon and very little sodium, mustard is ranked as one of the healthiest condiments. The mustard leaves contain significant amounts of calcium, Vitamins A, C, and K while their seeds are rich in fiber, selenium and magnesium.
Recommended mustard brands:
Annie’s Organic, Koop’s; Field Day; Woodstock.
Here is an example of what you may see on a commercial ranch dressing label: soybean oil, monosodium glutamate, artificial flavor, modified food starch, phosphoric acid, polysorbate 60, artificial color, and disodium EDTA. These additives cause problems for many people. Therefore, read your ingredient list to determine what is best for you.
Recommended salad dressing brands:
Primal Kitchen; Chosen Foods; Drews Organics; Annie’s Organic; Bragg’s Vinaigrette; Field Day.
Common ingredients you may want to avoid in sauces include artificial flavors and coloring, emulsifiers and natural flavors. Tomato sauce can be high in sodium. The recommended sodium intake per day is 2400mg. An average amount of sodium in ½ c of tomato sauce is 420mg. For those needing to monitor their sodium intake, try the no added salt brands.
Recommended sauce brands:
Field Day and Muir Glen (no added salt)
Conventional salts are bleached and refined, which removes any trace minerals. Celtic sea salt or Redmond Real Salt are 100% raw unrefined and unbleached salt, thus retaining many trace minerals, which add flavor. Himalayan Pink Salts have more than seventy trace minerals with many health benefits.
Recommended salt brands:
Field Day, Selina Naturally Celtic Salt, Redmond Salt; Celtic Sea Salt.
Conventional spices have been ground and packaged, thus causing their volatile oils to lose their flavor after 3 months. Because you don’t know how long these spices have been on the shelf, you cannot gauge how fresh they are. To purchase quality spices, it’s best to buy from the bulk section of the store, especially if you can buy whole spices and grind them yourself using a spice grinder.
Some common Asian condiments you may find in the store include soy sauce; hoisin sauce (made from sugar and soy beans); oyster sauce; rice vinegar; siracha sauce; teriyaki sauce; tamari sauce; fish sauce; and toasted sesame oil.
Here are a few tips on some of these Asian condiments:
Coconut Aminos – a soy free alternative with much less sodium then soy sauce.
Coconut Aminos Teriyaki Sauce – a soy free alternative with teriyaki and no added sugar.
Siracha Sauce – try to find a brand that has a small amount of sugar.
Rice Vinegar – unseasoned rice vinegar will have less sugar.
Sweet Chili Sauce – be aware of the very high sugar content.
Organic Tamari Sauce brand – Non-GMO, no wheat, gluten free, and made from organic soy beans
Next Up: Part 6 – Beverages, Protein Powders, Fiber Supplements
Author: Michelle Hanson
Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She will look forward to meeting you!