By Editors at Natural Wellness
Everyone loves a good barbecue. We all wait for spring and summer to come so that we can enjoy beautiful weather and great food with family and friends. Burgers, hot dogs, chicken and steak are basics; and the condiments are just as important. Most condiments seem healthy, but you would be surprised at how much sugar, sodium and chemical additives they’re loaded with. Grilled meats are full of protein and iron, but if you’re showering them in sauces and such, you’re not helping yourself in any way.
Companies have started adding high fructose corn syrup, more sodium, preservatives and artificial flavorings to make their products taste better and last longer. Unfortunately, this makes our favorite condiments detrimental to our health. High fructose corn syrup has become a very popular ingredient, as it sweetens the tasted of foods and drinks. It is man-made so it’s much cheaper than using a natural source. However, with no health benefits whatsoever, it is one of the major causes of obesity and diabetes. Start checking labels before purchasing to see the “hidden” additives, high calories, and sodium and sugar content. And it must be said that almost all of these condiments are very high in carbohydrates.
Favorites That Aren’t So Favorable
- Ketchup: Ketchup is just made from tomatoes and vinegar, right? Nope! Ketchup contains high fructose corn syrup and, in one cup, there can be almost 2,000 mg of sodium (or more!); in a tablespoon there is about 190 mg.
- Barbecue Sauce: Another culprit condiment is barbecue sauce, which many feel is a must for most grilled meat. But, it’s actually a bad choice. In two tablespoons there are 100 calories, 10 grams of sugar and about 250 mg of sodium.
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is one of the worst condiments to use, whether it is for a barbecue or simply a sandwich for lunch. One spoonful contains 100 calories and 10 grams of fat. Forty percent of mayonnaise is oil. All of the ingredients used in making mayonnaise can cause a lot of health problems, such as weight gain, oily hair and skin, clogging of arteries, internal inflammation and imbalance of your omega-6s and omega-3s.
- Relish: Relish is great on hot dogs – but you’ll be adding even more sodium to an already salty meat. Sweet, pickled relish can have upwards of 2,000 mg of sodium and 70 grams of sugar.
- Cheese: You’re probably wondering, what about cheese? Like everything else we eat, moderation is paramount. One slice is good enough.
Healthy Alternatives for Your Favorite Condiments
Instead of using ketchup you can try sliced tomatoes, salsa or hot sauce. These will boost the flavor of your meal even more so than boring, old ketchup. Spicy sauces (and chili peppers) are great for you, too! They speed up your metabolism, are rich in vitamins, fight bacteria, and much more. And, if you love mustard, you’re in luck, because yellow mustard is a very healthy choice.
Rather than drenching barbecued foods in BBQ or steak sauce, horseradish and sauerkraut are healthy ways to amp up the taste of burgers, hot dogs, chicken and steak. They both have much less sodium and sugar, and also hold compounds that are said to help fight cancer growth and cancer-causing cells.
The healthiest and tastiest way for a mayo lover to go is to make your own. Use plain Greek yogurt as a base (also a great substitute for sour cream) and mix in some lemon juice, mustard and spices. You’ll get calcium and protein and cut out more than half of the calories and fat found in regular mayo. You get to be creative! Whipping up some avocados into a mayonnaise-type texture also works well. You can also use it as a spread. If you’re not in the mood to make your own, try and go for an organic or vegan brand.
Horseradish and sauerkraut also work well as substitutes for relishes. Or, just have regular pickles, which have fiber and are good for digestive health.
If you really enjoy the condiments discussed above, and don’t want to make substitutions, try going for organic or low-sodium versions. Vegan condiments may put you off at first, but don’t totally disregard them just because you aren’t vegan. They tend to have natural additives (not artificial), lower sodium and much more vitamins and minerals.
More Options for Healthy Toppings
Some people don’t think of topping their burgers with veggies, except for the usual lettuce, tomato and onion, but there are lots of things that you may not have thought about before. Some aren’t vegetables at all!
Onions, lettuce, kale, garlic, bell peppers, chili peppers, cucumbers, zucchini or yellow squash, spinach, beets, garlic, mushrooms and avocado all make great toppings. Grilling some of these veggies adds even more of a surprising flavor. For example, try mixing up baby bella mushrooms, onions and garlic in a pan for 10 minutes or so and add on top of a burger or grilled chicken.
For a spread or dressing, use hummus, balsamic vinaigrette, vegetable dip, pesto or fresh herbs and olive oil.
Cucumber salad also makes for a tasty topping for a burger or chicken. When thin cucumber slices are soaked in vinegar and minimal sugar, it gives a yummy kick.
Hungry for More?
Experiment with your own recipes, use cookbooks or search the Internet for healthy food blogs. If there’s something you don’t like in a recipe you want to try, just tweak it to your liking. Even though you may not be vegetarian or vegan, those sites seem to really focus on cutting out the sugar and salt of these condiments. If you want your recipe to be a little sweeter but don’t want to use sugar, try a little honey instead. Bon appétit!