We all love adding flavour to our foods and meals, and nothing quite beats a great tasting sauce. When cooking, sauces can be used for Indian or Asian meals, as a stir through for pasta, or a salsa sauce for a quick snack or side to your favourite Mexican meal.
But with so many options, it can be easy to find yourself in the supermarket aisle wondering which sauce is best. We have done some of the hard work for you and made a summary of what to look for on nutrition information panels (see our article on how to read them here: How to Read a Food Label – Embody Nutrition Consulting):
We want our sauces to add flavour and interest to our meals, but not necessarily lots of additional calories/kJ. Try to choose a sauce lower in calories/kJ.
To reduce the risk of many diet-related diseases, it is advised to minimise consumption of saturated fat in our diet. It is best to choose a sauce low in saturated fat. Often vegetable based sauces are low in saturated fat, whilst creamy sauces are higher. Less than 3g per 100g is best.
Since sauces are typically savoury items, we would not expect there to be much sugar, however, food manufacturers may add this in. Choose a sauce lower in added sugar. For packaged foods, we generally aim for less than 15g per 100g.
Excess sodium is not good for our heart health, so choose lower sodium options among similar foods by comparing using the per 100g column. Less than 120mg per 100g is best, but less than 400mg per 100g is still ok.
Based on the above, we have chosen a few good sauce options which can be found in most supermarkets:
Old El Paso Thick & Chunky Salsa Mild
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||0|
Who doesn’t love some delicious salsa for a dip or to add to your burrito?!? With less than 400mg sodium per 100g and no saturated fat, this one is a winner for your pantry.
Coles Mexico Smokey Salsa Roja Medium
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||<1|
For those of you who like a bit of extra spice in your life, this is the salsa for you! Like the milder salsa, this one has less than 400mg sodium per 100g and <1g saturated fat, you can enjoy additional spice without additional sodium and saturated fat!
Sharwood’s Japanese Katsu Curry Pouch
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||1.7|
If you haven’t tried Japanese Katsu Curry, I can absolutely recommend you should! This simmer sauce is low in energy, saturated fat and sugar, with less than 300mg sodium per 100g too. You can add a variety of vegetables to the curry, including carrots, potatoes, onions and capsicum, or whatever you have left in the fridge. Your choice of rice or noodles plus some chicken on top makes this a delicious meal. You could even add a fresh salad as a side if you want to pop some extra veggies in too.
Sharwood’s Korean BBQ Asian Pouch
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||0.3|
This simmer sauce is a little higher in energy and sugar than the previous one, but still low in saturated fat and less than 300mg sodium per 100g. Another versatile and quick meal, and easy to substitute the chicken to an alternative favourite protein if you’d prefer.
Patak’s Madras Simmer Sauce Hot
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||0.4|
For those who are serious about spice in their curry, this is the sauce for you! This spicy tomato curry with chilli and cumin is low in saturated fat and sugar, and under 300mg sodium per 100g. Without being too energy dense, this sauce will be sure to give your tastebuds a workout!
Sharwood’s Butter Chicken Simmer Sauce
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||2.7|
It would probably be wrong to have a review of cooking sauces without mentioning butter chicken, due to its popularity. Unlike many other alternatives, this butter chicken simmer sauce has managed to keep saturated fat and sugar low, whilst keeping sodium under 400mg per 100g. The energy is only slightly higher than the other sauces we have mentioned, which is impressive considering butter chicken sauce contains cream.
Latina Fresh Italian Tomato & Garlic Pasta Sauce
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||0.4|
Pasta is such a quick and easy meal; perfect to whip up after training (for our review of great pasta to choose, see this page Product Review: Pasta – Embody Nutrition Consulting). This tomato-based pasta sauce adds flavour to your meal with minimal saturated fat, sugar and sodium. Easy to heat in this microwave safe container, simply toss through your cooked pasta or put on top.
Dolmio Extra Tomato, Onion & Roast Garlic Salt Reduced Pasta Sauce
|Saturated fat (g/100g)||<0.1|
If you have a look at the sodium content of many sauces you will find it is often high. This sauce has reduced the sodium content to less than 200mg per 100g of sauce, as well as being low in energy, sugar and saturated fat. With 6 serves of vegetables in every jar, this sauce is a great addition to a quick pasta meal.