5 Ingredients You Should Never Add To Chili - Eat This, Not That

5 Ingredients You Should Never Add To Chili – Eat This, Not That

If you need to eat healthy but still want to enjoy a hearty meal, you can’t go wrong with chili.

“Chili is a relatively healthy dish when made with quality ingredients,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. “Chili is often made with beans, ground meat (beef or poultry), peppers, onions, and a wide variety of other nutrient-dense ingredients. A bowl of chili can be a well-balanced meal all on its own. only.”

On paper, chili may fit most diets, but some home cooks have found ways to take this unpretentious dish to new calorie highs by loading it up with ingredients high in fat and salt. Trying to strike the perfect balance between a delicious bowl of chili and a meal that won’t derail your health goals sounds difficult, but with the right knowledge, you can avoid some major nutritional pitfalls.

Eat this, not that! consulted a handful of dietitians to get the inside scoop on chili ingredients you might want to avoid if you’re sticking to a healthy diet. Giving up on some of these supplements may seem difficult, but that shouldn’t stop you from experimenting with new recipes. If you need inspiration, try one of these Top 20 Healthy Chili Recipes for Weight Loss, and you might even discover your next favorite take on this classic home dish.


If you need to add some extra crunch to your next bowl of chili, try not reaching for your favorite crackers. “Savory crackers are a popular chili topping, but their sodium and refined carbohydrate content make them nutritionally troubling,” Best says.

Saltines aren’t the only crackers to watch out for. “Oyster crackers are also commonly served with chili,” says Best. “They are both heavily processed and made with refined carbohydrates, which are essentially devoid of vitamins or fiber. All of the beneficial ingredients found in whole grain crackers are absent in these forms and in turn may have inflammatory properties. .”

If you crave a little more crunch on your chili but don’t want to use crackers, you can try another type of topping. “Tortilla chips and whole-grain crackers are ideal replacements for refined carb crackers,” says Best. “Finding low-sodium options of these alternatives will also help improve this area of ​​concern. Alternatively, those who want the crunch of crackers can also enjoy sweet potatoes or jicama for the added vitamins and minerals.”



Bacon has been criticized for years for its high saturated fat and salt content. It can easily overload any meal with fat, and chili is no exception.

“Bacon is high in saturated fat and also high in sodium,” says Olivia Sokolowska, MBA, RD in the Salted Butter Kitchen. “Consider using turkey bacon or adding smoke in some other way with seasonings or charred vegetables.” If you have to watch your diet, skip the bacon bits the next time you make a batch of chili.

RELATED: 7 Canned Soups With The Highest Quality Ingredients

Whole sour cream

Even if you’ve made a perfectly healthy pot of chili, you can easily negate some of the benefits by loading it up with less-than-healthy toppings. Many people like a solid dollop of sour cream to finish each serving of chili, but this addition can easily add way too many calories and grams of fat to your meal.

If you like a little more creaminess on this dish, don’t assume you can’t find a good substitute for sour cream. “Choose low-fat options or top with Greek yogurt,” recommends Sokolowska. “Low-fat sour cream is typically about 50% less fat than high-fat sour cream, which saves calories while helping you enjoy a classic chili filling. Substitute plain Greek yogurt fat free is great if you’re looking for a very low calorie option with a stronger flavor.”

whole cheese

grated cheddar cheese

Whole dairy toppings promise to undo all the hard work you’ve spent trying to whip up a healthy bowl of chili, and generous sprinkles of full-fat cheese on this dish can add a ton of unnecessary nutrients. “Too much fatty cheese will skyrocket the calories and saturated fat in the meal,” says Katie Tomaschko, MS, RDN, CDNand contributor at Sporting Smiles.

“I would definitely recommend using a low fat cheese if you’re looking to make your chili healthier because the saturated fat content will be much lower. I definitely wouldn’t chop the cheese all together if that’s what that you like, but just exercise moderation and mindfulness when adding it.”

If you decide to supplement your chili with cheese, make sure that this dairy product contains fat. “I also wouldn’t recommend fat-free cheeses because, in my opinion, they really taste like cardboard and don’t melt well due to their low fat content,” says Tomaschko. “In this case, I would recommend skipping the cheese altogether.”

RELATED: Our guide to the best healthy cheeses

Store-bought spice and salt blends

Any good chili recipe contains a ton of flavor. While many versions of this dish require you to create your own blend of spices and seasonings at home, others rely on store-bought seasoning blends.

You can usually adjust your homemade seasonings and reduce the amount of salt, but “pre-made spices and seasoning blends can contribute to an unhealthy amount of sodium,” says Tomaschko. “That’s because it’s quite easy to overdo it.” These spices can range from garlic and onion salt, pre-made Cajun seasoning, or chili seasoning packets.

In order to keep the salt level in your chili under control, skip this ingredient and choose to make your own spice blend. By taking matters into your own hands, you can boost your chili.

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