Can Condiments Make Your Food Healthier?

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – When it comes to hamburgers and hot dogs, most of us know we are not eating something particularly healthy.

But what you put on them could help make them a little better for you.

A loaded hot dog is a favorite indulgence of Janet Jenkins.

“And I eat the whole thing and it’s the best thing ever, and I do feel a little guilty because it’s a hot dog, but it tastes so good,” she said.

Getting “The Works” could be helping Janet whether she realizes it or not.

Dr. Eric Braverman says some of the condiments and seasonings in these types of foods are good for us.

“From cumin to coriander, to pepper to mustard to ketchup, they are food enhancers that add nutrients,” he explained.

Ketchup, for example, is filled with lycopene, an anti oxidant which gives tomatoes their bright red color and is considered an anti cancer agent.

Lauren Slayton of says not all ketchups are created equal, however.

“Organic ketchup will have three times the lycopene of conventional ketchup and that’s a big difference,” she said.

Mustard also packs some nutritional punch.

One benefit comes from the mustard seed, according to Slayton.

She said it’s in the same family of foods as broccoli and cabbage and that makes it a good food in the fight against cancer.

She added that it’s good for asthma and arthritis symptoms.

Slayton says to check for turmeric on the list of ingredients for mustard.

“Turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory and they think it accounts for lower rates of Alzheimer’s in many parts of the world, so your hot dog can be healthy for you!” she said.

If you can’t avoid the temptation of a hot dog, try topping it wit sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage. It’s low in calories and is loaded with healthful bacteria.

To balance out a burger, give it a couple of shots of hot sauce if you can stand the heat.

It has a long list of nutritional and weight loss benefits.

Slayton said, “It’s good for your nasal passages and breathing in general. That’s just from the direct hotness. That same thing that makes you sweat is what helps your metabolic rate increase a little bit.”

On the sweet side, honey has long been recognized as a cough and allergy suppressant.

New studies show cinnamon is an effective anti oxidant that can help reduce risks associated with diabetes and heart disease.

In general, Slayton gives condiments a thumbs up.

“In terms of anti cancer benefits, heart health, allergies, for athletes, your condiments can go a lot way,” she said.

More from Paula Ebben
  • rainshine

    All this is great news – but what about the sodium?

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