5 Worst Condiments Ever
By Alice Osborne
Alright, I admit it: I'm a food Nazi. Are you sick to death of hearing me drone on about all the scary foods out there? Wouldn't blame ya. But I have this ingrained sense of responsibility to pass on what I know.
Anyway, here's information from one of my favorite sites, Care2, regarding the latest on America's favorite condiments. The biggest issue with all of them is how they can turn an otherwise nutritious meal into a metabolic nightmare mostly because of the hormone-disrupting chemicals these "foods" contain. So according to nutritionists and food scientists, here are the five common condiments that made the "worst of" list:
#1: Mayonnaise: Commercially prepared mayonnaise is primarily GMO soybean oil, one of the most harmful oils you can eat, found extensively in processed foods.
Whether partially hydrogenated, organic or made from newer soybean varieties modified to not require hydrogenation, these oils are highly processed and pave the way for a wide range of problems from obesity to diabetes; reproductive disorders to heart disease.
Besides trans fats created from hydrogenation, most US soybeans are genetically engineered (GE). As a result, they're saturated with dangerous levels of the herbicide glyphosate, linked to numerous serious health problems.
Although you may not consider mayonnaise "sweet," most commercial varieties contain liver-toxic high fructose corn syrup or other forms of fructose.
Considering this bleak news, why not make your own in a blender using olive oil, egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard and a little sea salt. It's actually good for you!
#2: Sour Cream: Sour cream can be a delicious and nutritious adjunct to your meal—or a toxic white glop, depending on what's in it. From a typical commercial sour cream label: "Cultured Pasteurized Cream and Milk, Whey, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Calcium Sulfate, Cultured Dextrose, Locust Bean Gum, Potassium Sorbate (As Preservative)"
Non-organic dairy products contain dangerous, genetically engineered bovine growth hormone-rBGH—the largest selling dairy animal drug in America. It's banned in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the entire European Union because of its risks to human health!
Even though the FDA ignores decades of evidence about the dangers of rBGH and continues to maintain it's safe for human consumption, avoid it by looking for products labeled "rBGH-free" or "No rBGH."
Or why not culture your own sour cream using lacto-fermentation culture, starting with fresh, raw organic cream, is not difficult and offers natural probiotics critical for your immune system. To make homemade cultured sour cream, visit Cultures for Health (http://www.culturesforhealth.com/).
#3: Ranch & Blue Cheese Dressing: Typical processed ranch and blue cheese dressings aren't even real food. Your digestive tract may even react to it like a foreign invader. Here's the ingredients of a popular brand:
"Soybean Pasteurized 'blend' of skim milk, reduced minerals whey, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, dehydrated onion, sour cream flavor (cream, nonfat milk, whey, whey protein concentrate, cultured nonfat buttermilk (skim milk, cultures), maltodextrin, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavors, monosodium glutamate, sodium citrate, sour cream cultures, lactic acid, food starch-modified, gelatin, dextrose, dehydrated garlic, vinegar powder (maltodextrin, corn starch-modified, white distilled vinegar), monosodium glutamate, citric acid, sodium hexametaphosphate, locust bean gum, lecithin, spices, potassium sorbate, guar gum, whey, whey protein concentrate, carrageenan, acetic acid, propylene glycol alginate, artificial colors (FD & C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine) and FD & C Yellow No. 6)"
Notice soybeans are at the forefront. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), one of the worst ever flavor enhancers, is listed TWICE. MSG hides under other names, like: flavorings, seasonings, soy protein, stocks and broths, malt extract, carrageenan, and corn starch.
MSG, an excitotoxin, overexcites cells to the point of damage or death, potentially causing brain damage and triggering learning disabilities. Common adverse effects include obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue and disorientation, depression, rapid heartbeat, tingling and numbness.
Food dyes are another sad story. Every year, food manufacturers pour 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes into US foods. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports some commonly used food dyes are linked to multiple cancers, hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children.
As of July 2010, most foods in the EU containing artificial food dyes come with warning labels. Britain requested food manufacturers to remove artificial colors from foods. In the US, however, there are no such measures.
So purchase organic alternatives or make your own. Once you've mastered mayo and sour cream, the sky's the limit when it comes to healthful dressings, sauces and dips.
#4: Ketchup: High fructose corn syrup is the biggest problem. Most contain overcooked tomatoes, water, and usually some form of genetically engineered corn syrup. Many brands add flavor-boosting chemicals called "natural flavorings," one being MSG.
Due to consumer concerns over the health problems of high fructose corn syrup, ConAgra, manufacturer of Hunt's Ketchup, removed it from their ketchup in 2010. However, their reformulated product wasn't a big hit, so they added it back in two years later!
Just one tablespoon of bottled ketchup typically contains four grams of sugar. Most people consume much more than one tablespoon of ketchup, though, so it doesn't take long to exceed the maximum daily fructose limit (25 grams or less).
Don't assume that just because a commercial ketchup is organic, it's low in sugar. Steer clear by making your own. Homemade ketchup is better in every respect, but if you feel you cannot live store bought, Annie's Naturals organic brand has half the usual amount of sugar and no HFCS.
#5: Barbecue Sauce & Steak Sauce: Steak and barbeque sauces, too, contain loads of unsavory ingredients. A1 Steak Sauce contains: "Tomato puree (water, tomato paste), distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, raisin paste, crushed orange puree, spices and herbs, dried garlic and onion, caramel color, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum"
Even worse is Open Pit Original BBQ Sauce: "High fructose corn syrup, water, distilled vinegar, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), salt, modified food starch, 2% or less of: soybean oil, hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, spice, onion powder, dehydrated garlic, artificial tomato flavor, natural and artificial flavor, Yellow No. 6 dye, Red No. 40, Blue No. 1, titanium dioxide, caramel color"
To conclude ("At last!" you're saying to yourself), at the risk of sounding like a broken record, make your own sauces at home! If it all sounds like too much work and bother, how about gathering with some line-minded friends and making a day of it; team work could whip out a lot of condiments in no time flat. And there are many online sources for great recipes—Food Network, chow.com, delish.com, etc. Let's start collecting the best of the best and create a cookbook within our All-New! Cook'n Recipe Organizer v.11 with Mobile apps, "Healthy Condiments." If you have a favorite recipe for any of the above, please pass it on; I'll add it with your name to my cookbook!
Weekly Newsletter Contributer since 2006