The One Ingredient That Shouldn't Be In The Tzatziki Sauce You're Eating

Tzatziki is a zesty topper found at many Mediterranean restaurants. Consisting of a creamy yogurt base, blended with cucumbers, oils, garlic, and more, this sauce is one of the healthier condiment options at a dining table. Because of its growth in popularity, tzatziki sauce is often readily found in grocery stores. While the ingredients seem simple enough, there's one that may urge you to skip this sauce the next time you're grocery shopping or dining out.

The culprit that turns this healthy dipping sauce into an unhealthy condiment is the use of cheap vegetable oils, per Men's Journal. This can be done by using a cheaper version of olive oil or by using a different base completely. "Unfortunately, many store-bought or restaurant tzatzikis use sour cream or mayo in addition or in place of yogurt, which can dramatically increase the calories," registered dietitian Pegah Jalali tells Men's Journal.

When cheap oils or alternatives are used, it compromises the healthiness of tzatziki, as it's typically a low-calorie and low-fat dip. Two tablespoons of this sauce contain 130 calories, based on the nutritional information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Center. It also contains only 1 gram of sugar and carbohydrates (via Verywell Fit).

How to make your own tzatziki sauce

Tzatziki sauce comes in slightly varied flavors, so the best way to make sure yours is healthy is to create your own. The key ingredients to making this dip flavorful, creamy, and healthy, according to registered dietitian Pegah Jalali, are cucumbers, yogurt (preferably strained), garlic, high-quality olive oil, herbs, salt, and lemon (per Men's Journal). If you're vegan, swap out the yogurt for your favorite plant-based yogurt instead.

Depending on your dietary needs, feel free to add more of certain ingredients to enhance your health. For instance, if you need probiotic-rich food, use Greek yogurt, as it's chock full of probiotics and supports your gut health (per Verywell Fit). Add an extra handful of dill (if you're okay with the flavor), as a 2016 study published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine found that dill has anti-diabetic properties that can help lower blood sugar levels. For more heart-health support, grind in extra garlic cloves — a 2015 review published in Phytomedicine indicated garlic extract is an effective approach for hypertension and reducing blood pressure. Be warned that while it may be tasty, extra garlic may result in garlic breath. Besides, you would need to eat an abundance of tzatziki sauce to achieve these heart-healthy benefits, points out Verywell Fit.