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What would a hot dog be without ketchup and mustard? How bland would chicken taste without the right sauce? What is a life without mayonnaise? Many people mistakenly believe that a life of healthy eating means a life without the creamy textures of condiments or savoury tastes of seasonings, but you don’t have to eat bland foods to keep up with your health. In fact, many condiments and spices actually offer benefits.

Ketchup

You may automatically assume that you need to cut ketchup from your diet if you’re trying to be healthier, but while it’s true that the food is high in sugar and sodium, it also provides lycopene, an antioxidant believed to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Eating three to four tablespoons with your burgers, hot dogs, or fries from time to time gives you a healthy dose. For the best results, stick to dark-colored, organic varieties. You can even give it some extra oomph by mixing it with organic mayonnaise or chopped garlic.

Horseradish

A small dose of horseradish each day can deplete the toxins in your body. Horseradish is comprised of glucosinolates, a compound that helps your liver detoxify carcinogens. A study conducted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that it may even suppress the growth of tumours. Horseradish has 10 times more glucosinolates than the next best source, which is broccoli, and you can eat it in a variety of ways. Some people choose to mix it with mustard and use it as a sandwich spread, but it is also good when mixed with yogurt and served with fish.

Hot Sauce

Who doesn’t love the tangy, spicy taste of hot sauce from time to time? Just a few dashes provides you with plenty of capsaicin, the compound that creates the heat in hot sauce. It is also known to reduce hunger by limiting ghrelin levels. Some experts have found that people who regularly consume hot sauce take in about 16 percent fewer calories than those who do not, and the sauce itself is calorie-free. Add it to anything you want to have a bit of extra kick, but be careful—some varieties are high in sodium.

Mustard

An American staple, mustard isn’t known to have any “superfood” properties, but it does have zero calories, making it a plausible mainstay on your rotation of condiments. From tuna fish to cheeseburgers, chicken to hot dogs, it adds flavor to nearly any food.

Teriyaki Sauce

The perfect marriage of sweet and salty, teriyaki sauce is often considered a more sophisticated version of soy sauce and is popularly used on authentic Japanese food that includes grilled meat and fish, vegetables and rice. Teriyaki sauce has only four ingredients—soy sauce, sake, a rice wine known as mirin, and brown sugar—which makes it easier to determine exactly what you are putting into your body.

Cinnamon

Perhaps it’s not creamy, but cinnamon is still considered a popular member of the extended condiment family. A teaspoon a day has been known to stabilize a person’s blood sugar, and it mixes well with nearly any sweet dish. Foods that are high in carbohydrates have been known to cause spikes in blood sugar, but adding cinnamon to these dishes could prevent the spike. Add it to everything from cakes to lattes. It even works well in starches such as rice.

Rosemary

If you are someone who is worried about the presence of foodborne carcinogens in your meals, consider cooking with rosemary. According to scientists at Kansas State University, adding a tablespoon or two to meats before cooking them reduces heterocyclic amines by between 30 and 100 percent. It can be added to virtually any meat and mixes well with sea salt and garlic.

Mayonnaise

Yes, you read that right. While traditional mayonnaise is not recommended for healthy eating, you can still have it if you choose the right brand. One to consider is Just Mayo from Hamptoncreek Foods. This brand uses a plant-based recipe that is lower in cholesterol and available in regular or sriracha flavors.  Add it to sandwiches or mix it with just about any recipe to get the creamy taste you crave.

No matter what eating plan you choose, you are more likely to become bored if you don’t add some variety. Condiments and seasonings are a great way to keep your basics tasting like fresh, new meals every time you eat them. Remember, part of the fun of food is experimenting, so don’t be afraid to try new combinations.

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