BBQ sauce is honestly the best way to add a little zest to any dish. That’s why there are so many different styles that have become universally beloved (hello, Korean BBQ!). Whether you’re used to sauces that are heavier on the vinegar, or you find yourself leaning more toward tomato-based sauces, there are some truly delicious options gracing grocery store shelves these days.
The only problem: All that flavor often comes with a boatload of unwanted ingredients. “You’ll find many barbecue sauces out there that contain significant amounts of added sugar," says New York City-based plant-forward nutritionist Amy Gorin, RDN. "Some sauces even list it as the first ingredient.” Another issue: “Barbecue sauces can also contain significant amounts of sodium,” Gorin says.
The good news, though, is that a growing number of better-for-you BBQ sauces are popping up in the condiment aisle.
Thanks to these new-and-improved options, "you can actually get nutrition from barbecue sauce,” Gorin says. “Many contain tomato puree, which offers the antioxidant lycopene. Others, meanwhile, are made with spices such as turmeric, which offers anti-inflammatory benefits.”Before putting a bottle in your cart, Gorin recommends scoping out the sugar and sodium content. “Choose one that doesn’t have sugar as a first ingredient,” she says. The sweet stuff can appear as straight sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, and maple syrup, among other sneaky disguises.
Ideally, a serving of sauce will come with less than eight grams of sugar. (Sadly, your beloved Sweet Baby Ray's packs twice that.) When it comes to sodium, “try to choose one that contains less than 10 percent of the daily value of sodium (230 milligrams) per serving,” she suggests.
The next time you're craving something sweet-spicy, grab one of these nutritionist-approved bottles of healthier BBQ sauce.