When people focus on eating healthier they forget about watching their condiments. It’s as if those tasty little sauces don’t count.
In reality, our favorite taste enhancers can be an unwanted source of sugar, excess salt, trans fats, dyes, chemicals, genetically engineered ingredients and calories. Most condiments are highly processed and have little nutritional value. So don’t let bad condiments wreck an otherwise healthy, well-balanced meal.
If you’ve read the label of a commercial condiment bottle, you’ve likely found an unpronounceable or unrecognizable list of ingredients.
If your goal is to clean up your diet, you don’t have to give up your favorite, flavorful sauces in the process. You can substitute for a cleaner, more natural or organic brand or better yet, you can make your own.
Don’t worry it’s not that difficult. Often do-it-yourself condiments are much tastier than store bought. You can choose higher quality ingredients and adjust to your taste buds. Once you start making your own, you’ll never want to go back to inferior, commercial brands, despite the convenience.
Here’s a list of the top ten condiments you should remove from your shelf for health reasons and replace with healthier versions. There’s even a few recipes below.
Let’s start with the easy replacements first.
Modern soy sauces may contain dangerous levels of chemicals known as chloropropanols, which are produced when soy sauce production is sped up using acid hydrolyation methods. Soy is also typically genetically modified and estrogenic. But it’s easy to replace. Try Coconut Secret’s raw coconut aminos made from aged coconut sap with 10 times the amino acids of soy. It’s a got a great flavor and is available at stores like Whole Foods or at online markets like Amazon.com.
Pancake syrup can be easily replaced with real maple syrup. Maple is a lower glycemic sweetener that tastes great and is all natural, as opposed to pancake syrup, which is made from 3 types of sugar syrup.
Agave nectar is a marketing scam. We have been convinced that agave is a healthier alternative to sugar or honey, but it’s not true. Agave nectar is highly processed, which strips it of its nutritional value. And it contains more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup, so people with high blood sugar should avoid it. Honey is natural and has many nutrients. It can be used to treat seasonal allergies. Honey, coconut nectar and black strap molasses are the healthiest sweeteners out there.
Light salad dressings should always be avoided, as should all light products, because they replace the fat with artificial sugar, real sugar, sugar preservatives and sodium. It’s best to purchase full-fat dressing with a few natural or organic ingredients or make your own salad dressing with oil, vinegar and spices.
The top selling dressing in the U.S. for the last 20 years is ranch dressing, but most commercial brands are loaded with trans fats and calories. A half-cup serving can add 600 calories to your meal. Greek yogurt, mixed with herbs, spices, a touch of vinegar and homemade mayo can make a delicious and healthy alternative to ranch dressing.
Sour cream is typically made from conventional dairy, which contains growth hormones and antibiotics. Dairy growth hormones, which have been banned in many industrial countries, are still allowed in the U.S. despite their link to breast cancer. Conventional sour cream can be easily substituted by grass-fed Greek yogurt, which also packs a probiotic punch.
Ketchup is probably the most popular condiment in America. But it’s also b. Here’s a healthy homemade alternative recipe for ketchup and other favorites like relish, mayo and BBQ sauce.
But remember, drowning your food with condiments is not a good idea whether they are natural or not. Studies show that super palatable condiments make people eat 25 to 50 percent more. So enjoy your healthy condiments in moderation.
Healthy Homemade Ketchup:
Makes: 1 cup (keeps about 1 week in the fridge)
• 1 (15 oz.) BPA-free can of organic, fire-roasted, no salt added diced tomatoes.
• 1 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar.
• 1/8 tsp. pink sea salt.
• 1 soaked dried date, or fig.
• 1/8 tsp. paprika.
• Optional: dash of black pepper, or garlic powder.
1. First, drain your tomatoes. Draining will help keep your ketchup thick once it’s blended.
2. Add all the ingredients to a small food processor, or a blender made for small jobs. or add it to your high speed blender, and blend until completely smooth.
3. Store in a glass mason jar for one week in the fridge. Please, do not use plastic containers since they’ll not just stain, but your Kethcup can also soak up chemicals from the plastic during storage.
Healthy Homemade Relish Recipe:
• 4 cups finely chopped cucumbers.
• 2 cups finely chopped onions.
• 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped.
• 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped.
• 1/4 cup pickling or fine sea salt.
• 2 cups cider vinegar.
• 3 cups sugar.
• 1 tablespoon celery seeds.
• 1 tablespoon mustard seeds.
1. Combine the cucumbers, onions, and green and red bell peppers in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and toss. Cover with cold water. Let stand for at least 2 hours. Drain well.
2. Combine the cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Pack into clean hot half-pint canning jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and seal.
4. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Let cool undisturbed for 12 hours. Store in a cool, dry place. Do not open for at least 6 weeks to allow the flavors to develop.
Healthy Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe:
• 4 egg yolks at room temperature.
• 1 TBSP lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
• 1 Tsp regular or Dijon mustard (or ½ tsp dried mustard)
• Salt and pepper.
• ⅔ cup olive oil.
• ⅔ cup coconut oil (warm.)
1. Put egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until smooth.
2. Add lemon juice or vinegar, mustard and spices and blend until mixed.
3. SLOWLY add oil while blending or whisking at low speed, starting with olive oil. Start with a drop at a time until it starts to mix and then keep adding slowly until all oil is incorporated.
4. Store in fridge up to 1 week.
Healthy All-American BBQ Sauce:
• 3/4 cup ketchup
• 3/4 cup beer, preferably porter
• 1/2 cup molasses
• 2 tablespoons orange juice
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
• 2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
1. Combine all ingredients except the hot sauce in a heavy medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in hot sauce.
If you want to clean up your diet before starting on any healthy regimen, consider our 21DayBody Makeover Program to get a kick start on your health.
The fastest growing and most exciting topic in health research right now is the microbiome, which is the ecosystem of bacteria living in each of our bodies. This bacterial colony is so abundant, it outnumbers the number of cells in our body 10 to 1.
Of course, there’s bad bacteria, which causes disease, but the microbiome is made up of beneficial bacteria which helps us digest food, manufactures vitamins, strengthens our immune system and protects us from disease. Science is also discovering that bacteria plays a big role in our metabolism and weight.
The types and quantities of bacteria in our bodies can predict what diseases we are vulnerable to contracting, from digestive ailments to diabetes to autoimmune issues. Recently though, scientists have been studying the biome to understand one of the biggest health issues facing developed nations, the rise in obesity. They have found that there is a correlation between the biome and body mass index.
A recent book by Sandra Aamodt brings this research to light. Her book “Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss” takes a fresh new look at the connection between bacteria and weight. Aamodt’s assertions are controversial because they negate the effectiveness of the modern diet industry.
She says that weight loss generated by typical diets just prompts the body to regain weight due to a drop in metabolism. Because metabolism drops dramatically after weight loss, most people have to eat much less, then when they were dieting, to keep the weight off.
But there’s a better way to take off weight sustainably. Aamodt’s book explains how by describing the relationship between weight loss and our intestinal bacteria. The relationship is complicated but offers insight into why some people are naturally thin and others struggle to keep weight off.
Gut bacteria fall into three categories: bacteroidetes, firmicutes and actinobacteria. These bacteria break down the part of food that would be otherwise wasted. And bacteroidetes even make vitamin K, a vital nutrient we can’t make by ourselves. Bacteria, in fact, can extract a lot more energy from food than digestive enzymes can do by themselves.
Slimmer people have a higher ratio of bacteroidetes compared to firmicutes. The reason these bacteria affect our weight is because they regulate how much fat and calories we absorb. Firmicutes help us obtain more energy from food, particularly carbohydrates. For people who eat a lot of fruits and veggies, it can add up to an extra 140 to 180 calories per day. Bacteroidetes, on the other hand, can suppress enzymes that lead to increased fat storage.
The diversity of gut bugs also matters, as people with less diverse biomes are more likely to be obese. They can also have issues with metabolic syndrome and higher risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. Antibiotics are the primary reason our biome is less diverse. For this reason, the over use of antibiotics could be making us fat.
Many of the current bacterial experiments have primarily been done on mice. When scientists transferred bacteria from obese mice to slim mice, the lean mice gained weight. But there’s also research being conducted on humans.
For example, researchers have a better success rate predicting if people are fat or thin from their biome (90 percent accuracy) than their genetics (only 58 percent accuracy). This is good news, because while you can’t change your genes, you can change the make up of your biome by eating the right diet with fermented foods, taking the right probiotics and supplements and minimizing medications, antibacterial products and stress.
A healthy digestive system is the best support for cultivating a healthy microbiome. The 21-Day Body Makeover supports the building of bacteroidetes and lowering of firmicutes through a high fiber, low sugar diet, supplementation and liver detox supplements.
DigestionEase is one of the digestive supplements included in the 21-Day Body Makeover plan. It helps the body digest the fibers, proteins and fats that feed the right kind of bacteria in the body. So detoxing correctly and replenishing the right bacteria in your body can not only lead to weight loss but improve overall health.
Most people think that consuming too much high-cholesterol food will raise bad cholesterol levels in their body. This is a dietary myth. Eating foods high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats does not raise bad cholesterol to harmful levels. The concern with high cholesterol levels in the body is that it can harm heart health and clogs arteries, increasing the risk for heart attacks and heart disease. The medical term for this is atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries.
Dietary cholesterol is a hotly debated topic in the nutritional world but food isn’t the whole picture. Did you know your body naturally produces good cholesterol, which is also protective to heart health? This good cholesterol, which is called HDL lipoproteins, balances the effects of bad cholesterol in the body. Good cholesterol has been linked to a decreased risk of atherosclerosis.
Having lowered levels of HDL cholesterol is just as harmful to health as having elevated levels of bad cholesterol in the body.
What many people don’t realize is that factors other than food can influence the balance of good and bad cholesterol in the body. Sleep deprivation can cause a shift in cholesterol levels, lowering the amount of the good, protective kind of cholesterol. The latest research on this topic, published in Scientific Report, studies how sleep deprivation impacts cholesterol levels in the body.
According the study’s authors, just one week of sleep deprivation can also change the body’s metabolism and immune response.
There have been other studies that have linked heart health issues to lack of sleep. A 2013 study found that sleep deprivation hurts vascular function and blood vessel health. Other studies have linked sleep deprivation to numerous health issues such as obesity, weight gain, diabetes, memory loss, mood issues and Alzheimer’s disease.
The latest study delves into how and why this happens. The study suggests that sleep deprivation can impair the way the body metabolizes cholesterol.
Study researchers conducted an experiment as well as analyzed data sets from two other experiments. The first experiment involved depriving participants of sleep for a week under controlled laboratory conditions. The second and third data sets were from DILGOM (Dietary, Lifestyle, and Genetic determinants of Obesity and Metabolic syndrome) and Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.
After analyzing these data sets, the researchers concluded that the genes involved in regulating cholesterol transport are impaired in sleep-deprived people when compared to those who get enough sleep. In addition, they found that sleep-deprived people had lower levels of HDL lipoproteins. Because sleep deprivation lowers HDL levels, it removes some of its protective powers against blood vessel plaque buildup and potential heart problems.
The study researchers found it interesting that factors such as sleep can contribute to heart health, inflammatory reactions and changes to cholesterol metabolism. “The experimental study proved that just one week of insufficient sleep begins to change the body’s immune response and metabolism. Our next goal is to determine how minor the sleep deficiency can be while still causing such changes.”
One of the keys of getting good sleep is balancing blood sugar levels. Balanced blood sugar reduces cortisol production, which is an added stress on the body. The 21-Day Body Makeover can help stabilize blood sugar levels with a healthy balance of carbs, fiber, fats and protein. It can also detox the liver, which will help produce deeper and more restful sleep. It’s important to look at factors other than food for good health. But food is still the foundation to managing healthy sleep, elimination and blood sugar levels.