A quick look inside your fridge shows that you’re feeding your baby all the right stuff: organic veggies, whole wheat pasta, hormone-free milk. So why are you still dipping those uncured, nitrate-free turkey hot dogs in ketchup that’s loaded with high fructose corn syrup?
The sugar, sodium, and saturated fats found in most mainstream condiments can completely undo your good intentions to feed your little ones a pure, healthy diet. We’ve asked our expert nutritionist, Hillary Baron Irwin, to point out the five worst condiment land mines and recommend some healthier substitutes.
KETCHUP. The good news is, ketchup is high in lycopene, a healthy, antioxidant nutrient believed to help in preventing cancer. The bad news is, many brands are high in sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup as well as sodium. Your best bet is to go organic. Hillary recommends: Muir Glen Organic, Heinz Organic
SYRUP + HONEY. Both are highly concentrated in sugar and offer very little nutritional value. (Note: honey should never be give to an infant under 12 months due to the risk of infant botulism.) As a replacement, try pureed fruit. Hillary recommends: If you are truly intent on giving your child something syrupy, try pure agave nectar. It is not a refined sugar, and its sweetness comes from fructose, the sweetest of all naturally occurring carbohydrates. But at the end of the day, it’s still sugar . . . so stick with the fruit if you can.
JELLY + JAM. Both are processed and typically loaded with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. (Note: most sugar-free jams have artificial sweeteners, so stay clear.) Hillary recommends: Polaner All Fruit. They sweeten their jam with fruit juice (most other brands use high fructose corn syrup).
SALAD DRESSING. Full-fat creamy dressings are high in saturated fats. Many dressings also contain high fructose corn syrup and can be high in sodium. Olive oil-based dressings are the way to go. Hillary recommends: Annie’s Naturals Green Garlic Dressing, Annie’s Naturals Oil & Vinegar, Annie’s Naturals Papaya Poppy Seed Dressing
MAYONNAISE. Mayo is typically very high in fat and therefore the least healthy of the condiments. Before age 2, full-fat dairy is needed for brain development, however after age 2 parents should switch to low-fat dairy and start focusing on heart-healthy fats. (While calories are typically not an issue, plaque/cholesterol buildup can start at this age!). Hillary recommends: If you really want to use mayonnaise, try a canola-based mayonnaise or a tofu version called Nayonaise.