Is there anything worse than bland, tasteless food? Being served the same food over and over can, unquestionably, be dull and boring, but food that has little to no taste, to begin with, is infinitely worse. If our food isn’t going to taste good and be something we anticipate with pleasure, we may as well adopt some futuristic writer’s view of a world where food comes out of a computerized system that reduces all of our nutritional requirements into a pill.
That cannot be the future anyone looks forward to! We have an ongoing love affair with food and how it tastes is essential. Condiments play a major role in how much we enjoy what we eat. According to our friends at Merriam Webster, the word “condiment” is defined as something used to enhance the flavor of food. Sometimes the condiment makes such a difference that not having it would significantly affect how the food is experienced. French fries without ketchup? Hot dogs without mustard?
As important as condiments can be, there is a limit. It was during Reagan’s first term in office that someone in his administration came up with the idea of classifying ketchup as a vegetable in the school lunch program. Needless to say, once the press got a hold of the story, the ensuing outcry brought about a swift change of policy.
Healthy Condiment Suggestions
Condiments are not ever likely to be given the same status as members of the food groups, but many of them not only add flavor and enjoyment, they actually have health benefits. One good example is ketchup, America’s favorite standby for burgers and fries because it contains lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. It is believed that lycopene may aid in slowing the development of atherosclerosis. Some of the other condiments that you might consider adding to your diet include:
- Horseradish – commonly used in cocktail and tartar sauce, most people are unaware that horseradish contains glucosinolates, which increase the liver’s detoxification process when it comes to carcinogens. Horseradish actually has nearly ten times more of this cancer-fighting substance than broccoli, believed to be next on the list for glucosinolates.
- Cinnamon – second only to black pepper in popularity, cinnamon is used with a wide variety of foods to spice up the flavor. At the same time, a few dashes of cinnamon are making our morning oatmeal tastier, it is also working to lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, especially for diabetics.
- Pico De Gallo and Salsa – along with most tomato-based salsas, pico de gallo is loaded with health benefits. The tomatoes, onions, and garlic all work as antioxidants and help against free radical damage which leads to the mutations in cancer cells. The garlic and onions also have anti-inflammatory properties. All of this coupled with a very low-calorie count makes salsa and pico de gallo excellent choices to spice up food!
- Mustard – there are probably few households in the U.S. that do not have at least one variety of mustard in the cupboard or refrigerator, but, with that said, not everyone likes this colorful condiment. With the vast majority of people, the consensus seems to be that you either love it or you hate it. This is unfortunate for those who do not like it, because mustard has a fair amount of health benefits. Mustard seeds contain the cancer-fighting glucosinolates, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Its leaves contain potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin A, vitamin K with folate and vitamin C.
- Hot Sauce – hot sauce, specifically one make with capsaicin-containing chili peppers, adds an immediate flavor spike to everything from tacos to eggs. While hot sauce has always been found in Mexican restaurants, it is now a staple in restaurants and home kitchens all across the U.S. including those in Texas. The good news is that capsaicin is believed to aid in boosting metabolism, which can lead to weight loss, as well as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
One thing to keep in mind, of course, is that condiments are an accompaniment. The foods we eat them with are likely to be far more important when it comes to overall health benefits. Consuming hot sauce, for example, while eating a plate of lard-and-masa-loaded tamales is not apt to lead to any positive health outcomes!