by Dr. Willie Ong
Image from http://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2013/03/05/15-healthy-sauces-dressings/
Do you like to add seasonings to your food? Do you have the urge to drown your chicken in a pool of gravy sauce or add spoonfuls of Thousand Island dressing to your salad? If so, you’d better watch out.
Knowing which food to eat is only half the battle won. The other half is about choosing healthier sauces to dip your food into. Let’s check out the best seasonings for you.
1. Tomato sauce and ketchup. Topping the list are tomato products like tomato sauce and ketchup. A study shows that eating tomato sauce leads to a longer life span for men with prostate cancer. In order to release its lycopene, tomatoes should be cooked with a little olive oil. Ideally, we should consume at least 10 tablespoons of tomato sauce a week or approximately 150ml a week.
2. Vinegar. A daily intake of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar may help control blood glucose levels. In a study published in Diabetes Care, Dr. Carol Johnston from the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University shows that vinegar slows down the usual rise of blood sugar after a meal. According to Dr. Johnston, “The acetic acid in vinegar may inhibit enzymes that digest starch so that carbohydrate molecules aren’t available for absorption and are eliminated as fecal matter.” The late Vermont country doctor, Dr. D. C. Jarvis, maintained that an overweight person could lose weight gradually by taking two teaspoons of vinegar in a glass of water (with a little honey for taste) before each meal. Just a warning: Don’t take too much if you’re hyperacidic. The safest way to consume vinegar is to incorporate it in your diet, such as vinaigrette dressing for salads, and as a seasoning with fish and rice.
3. Calamansi or lemon. These citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which are known to help our immune system in fighting infections. Just be careful that you don’t take it on an empty stomach because it’s acidic. Mix it with food or water. In fact, some studies show that lemon juice may help relieve symptoms of asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and sore throat.
4. Curry and turmeric. Turmeric and yellow curry are seasonings that may help fight inflammation and prevent cancer. Curry contains a compound called curcumin which, preliminary studies show, may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. In the laboratory, these seasonings enhance the effect of chemotherapy and also reduce tumor growth.
5. Ginger. Ginger root has long been used in Chinese Medicine to treat nausea, vomiting, cough, colds, headache, stomach ache, and arthritis. Its secret ingredient comes from gingerols. Aside from these benefits, ginger helps reduce inflammation and helps retard the creation of new blood vessels used by cancer cells.
Image from http://steamykitchen.com/15777-bouillabaisse-recipe.html
6. Garlic, onions, and leeks. According to cancer expert Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, garlic and leeks contain ally sulfides, which may help in cancers of the colon, breast, lung, and prostate. To best release its anticancer ingredients, the garlic clove should be crushed and gently fried with a little olive oil. Garlic can also be eaten raw or added to salads.
Seasonings to be used in moderation:
1. Salt, soy sauce, and fish sauce. For healthy individuals, there’s no problem in consuming these condiments in moderation. However, for people with a variety of conditions, particularly high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, heart failure, and leg swelling, these seasonings should be taken in limited amounts. Some cancer experts warn against taking too much of these salty seasoning as they might trigger the formation of cancer cells in the body.
2. Shrimp paste (bagoong). Just like soy sauce and fish sauce, shrimp paste is very salty. And it doesn’t matter even if you mix it with lots of rice. For as long as you consume the salt in these seasonings, it will still retain water in the body, thereby potentially increasing one’s blood pressure. For those with heart and kidney disease, I would advise you not to place added seasonings on your food anymore. Just take your food as it is.
3. Hot sauce and chili. For susceptible individuals, hot sauce and chili can lead to ulcers and hemorrhoids. The ingredients in hot sauce are actually irritating to the blood vessels in the rectum (anus) and can aggravate hemorrhoids. Too much spicy foods will also be released through our sweat pores, causing body odor.
4. Mayonnaise or Thousand Island dressing. The concern with mayonnaise-based dressings is their very high fat content. A teaspoonful of mayonnaise packs a whole lot of calories. As an alternative, you may choose vinegar-based sauces for your salads.
Image from http://auntiemyrtles.com/recipes/gravy-recipe/
5. Rich gravy sauce and butter-based sauces. Some gravy sauces are made with the fat and oil drippings of pork and beef. These kinds of gravy sauces are not friendly to your heart and blood vessels. Don’t risk it. However, there are some gravy preparations that are less rich and less fatty. You can actually tell by the not-so-buttery smell and taste of it. If you crave gravy, just add a little dab on your food. As mentioned, ketchup for fried chicken is much healthier than gravy sauce.
Finally, let me remind our readers that although the healthy seasonings listed here have some benefits, you must not overdo it, either. These preferred seasonings should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment but only to assist you in eating better.
As always, the key word is moderation. Just take a bit more of the healthy sauces and less of the salty and fatty ones. Good luck!