Archive for the ‘Health, Diet, and Nutrition’ Category

Article by Amy Eisinger for Greatist.com

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You can crush a spin class, run a 5K with ease, and power through weight sessions at the gym. But you still get winded climbing a flight of stairs.TiredStairClimbing

The good news is that’s totally normal. “It doesn’t mean you’re out of shape,” says Jordan Syatt, a certified personal trainer and Greatist expert. “You just elevated your heart rate and need more oxygen.” Unless you’re doing staircase workouts or using the StairMaster religiously, a quick burst of energy can leave you short of breath, says Nieca Goldberg, M.D., a cardiologist and director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Climbing a flight of stairs uses more muscles than the simple act of walking, Syatt says. After all, you’re essentially doing lunges uphill (and fighting gravity in the process). And a move like that might be slightly more advanced than most people’s fitness level, Goldberg says. As any trainer will tell you, once a workout becomes too easy, you need to add intensity if you want to keep seeing progress. At the new level of difficulty, you’ll be challenged again.

Another potential culprit? If you’re already working out vigorously to train for a strenuous event, like a half or full marathon, getting up a flight of stairs is just contributing to your already heavy workload. Running up 20 stairs, as opposed to running 20 paces on flat land, combines an aerobic activity with a strength activity, says Jason Fitzgerald, a certified track and field coach and Greatist expert. “Even if you’re in great shape, that’s going to get you out of breath very quickly,” Fitzgerald says.

Your Action Plan

“Like anything, you’ll get better at it with practice,” Fitzgerald says. Syatt suggests incorporating lower-body strength exercises like split squats, lunges, and reverse lunges into your workouts to help mimic the movement of going up stairs.

“Start with your own body weight, then eventually add 15, 30, or even 40 pounds,” Syatt says. “When you’re walking up the stairs, it’ll be a lot easier because you’re more conditioned for it.”

So go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief—as soon as you get to the top, that is.

Article written by Prograde author, Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES

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What do you think is the most popular New Year’s resolution for this year – and pretty much every other year?

Give up?

It’s to get a six-pack!

You see it every day when you hit the gym… The people doing endless crunches, sit-ups, and bicycle crunches because they want to get the flat stomach or rippling six-pack…

But the truth is:  They are doing it all WRONG! Doing hundreds of crunches – over and over again – will NOT get you’re the flat midsection you’re dying to have.

So what happens then? You lose all gumption…you lose your motivation…you quit when you’re just getting started!

So here’s the deal…

I am going to give you a blueprint – one that if you use it in combination with a bulletproof diet – then you too, could have the flat midsection or rippling six-pack to show the world!

The Secret to Six-Pack Abs

If you search the internet, over 3,000,000 results will come up in regards to getting a six-pack.

Some of the tips are good…while others may not be so good.

If you really want to get a six-pack this year, then you need to do the following:

1) Eat a healthy diet – this is the most crucial step in stripping away the small – or thick – layer of fat that is covering your belly.

You should be focusing your efforts on lean cuts of meat, whole fruits and vegetables, essential fats (coconut oil, olive oil, and Krill oil), and plenty of healthy carbs.

These foods may go a long way to boosting your metabolism and stripping away the fat that is covering your six-pack.

2) You need to exercise – this is another crucial step in the six-pack process.  Now, before you think your exercise plan should contain hundreds – if not thousands – of crunches, think again!

There are plenty of other exercises that you may be able to do that could lead you to a stronger core and lower back.

And this could eventually lead to a six-pack!

So what exercises should you do? Well, you should be focusing on exercises that help stabilize your and build strength in your lower back, hips, abs, and all the other supporting muscle groups.

One of the best exercises for accomplishing this is (drumroll please)…

The PLANK!

This is one of the most fundamental exercises that taxes almost every muscle in your body – but especially the core.

The best part of the plank:  Anyone can do them!

Some may have to start at a different point them others, but most people should be able to the plank for developing the core.

The plank is an exercise that can be changed to make it harder (feet position) or to put stress on different areas of the core (1-arm plan reach).

So, here’s what you need to do to start off the plank:

First, you should start in the push-up position (can be done from the knees as well).  Bend your elbows so they are at a 90 degree angle with your weight now resting on your forearms.

Now , straighten your legs so you are in full push-up position with your hips parallel to the floor, with your body in a straight line from your head to your feet.

Tuck your belly in towards your spine and maintain a tight core throughout the exercise.

For beginners, you should focus on holding it as long as you can,  It could be 10 seconds or 30 seconds, whatever the time, you’re working on getting your core stronger which will help with almost every aspect of your life.

But what happens if you can’t hold it for a long time?

It’s okay if you can’t hold it for a long time…

The more you practice and the more you do it, the stronger your core will become.

That means no more back pain…

A stronger core that keeps the fat OFF your belly…

And an easier time doing every day activities like playing with your kids or going hiking!

Take Home Message

Let’s recap right now what you have learned today…

First, in order to get a flatter belly you need to include the right foods in your diet.  No sugar…no processed junk…and no additives of any kind (including HFCS).

Then you need to exercise!  A program that includes strengthening, cardio, high intensity training (not for everyone), and flexibility is a great, well-rounded workout.

If you notice, I didn’t mention crunches or sit ups!  If you want to maintain a strong core – one that fat melts off of – you should include the plank into your exercise program.

This is one of the BEST exercises for developing the core WITHOUT putting an abundant amount of stress on crunches.

This one exercise could make everything in your body stronger – including your abs!

So, if you want a flat belly, start using these helpful tips today!

Article written by Macaela Mackenzie Bad Breath

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Even if you steer clear of the garlic bread and booze, bad breath can sneak up on you. And anyone who’s ever been caught before a big meeting or a date without an emergency mint or trusty stick of gum (the horror!) knows it can be a big issue. To neutralize these smelly situations, you have to know what causes them. Most of the time, we can blame bacteria—the kind that naturally occurs in our mouths—says Sunil Wadhwa, associate professor of dental medicine and director of orthodontics at Columbia University.

Brushing your teeth regularly is the best defense, but Wadhwa says many people forget to brush two major bacteria breeding grounds: their gums and tongue. If you’re practicing good dental hygiene and still experiencing rank breath, you may be dealing with a bigger issue like post-nasal drip or a sinus infection, says Cheryl Sobieraj, a dentist based in Connecticut. But before you call your own dentist in a panic, Sobieraj advises using a tongue scraper to be sure you’re getting at the source of the stinky stuff.

Of course, sometimes despite our regular brushing regimen, we still get caught with funky breath. Here’s what you should reach for to stifle the stank.

1. Water

When you’re really in a pinch, grab a glass of water. The bacteria in our mouths naturally releases a foul gas as it goes about its job of keeping our bodies healthy and balanced. “The saliva in your mouth actually prevents the release of gas,” Wadhwa says. “So anytime you have a dry mouth, more of the gas is released.” Stay hydrated to keep your salivary glands happy.

2. Carrots or Celery

Next time you’re stuck at cocktail party sans breath fresheners, reach for the crudités. Watery veggies, like carrots and celery, can act like a toothbrush substitute by clearing your mouth of food debris before they start to create a stench. Their real power, though, is in in the stimulation of saliva production. “A lot of things we think cure bad breath are really just increasing your saliva, which helps,” Wadhwa says.

3. Tea

In addition to helping with the dry mouth issue, tea has some other breath-boosting properties. Scientists have found that polyphenols—chemical compounds found in black and green tea—can prevent the growth of the bacteria that causes bad breath. Bring on tea time!

4. Apples

Before you head into your next meeting, grab an apple from the office break room. Apples contain oxidized polyphenols, which help to neutralize the odor produced by bacteria in your mouth. Bonus: Biting into the firm texture of the apple helps to scrub bacteria off of your teeth too.

5. Coffee

But only if it’s black. Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that regular coffee can stop bad breath in its tracks. Coffee leaves most people a little dehydrated, so make sure to steer clear of milk or creamer, which can be pungent in a dry mouth.

6. Parsley

How many times have you ordered a dish that’s loaded with garlic, only to realize you’ve run out of gum? Talk about a mood killer. If you’re in a pinch, chew on the parsley that’s garnishing your meal. A recent study found certain enzymes in parsley helped to neutralize garlic breath.

One of my earlier posts, definitely worth re-reading…

allandnieva.me

Oatmeal is a solid, healthy option for breakfast. Period.

However, when I say, “Oatmeal”, I mean the ‘real stuff’.  Not the heavily processed, flavored, instant ‘oatmeal’.  That stuff is absolutely TERRIBLE for you.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the ingredients on a box of the ‘instant oatmeal’ vs regular oats that require 30 minutes of cooking.  You can’t count the number of ingredients in the instant oatmeal on two hands!  But you only need one finger to count the number of ingredients on say, steel cut oatmeal – OATS.

While any form of oatmeal will be ‘heart healthy’, the fiber in the instant oatmeal packets will not be very soluble, therefore unusable in the way they were meant to be utilized by the body.

For example, take a look at a brand of “heart-healthy” instant oatmeal (their claim), the “Maple and Brown Sugar” flavor.

First, there is no maple in…

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PBJ Sandwich

Just to be clear, there are no ‘superfoods’ or supplements that can turn you into a superhuman the day before or during the Tough Mudder (or any race, for that matter).

If you’re following along with my training program for the AZ Tough Mudder, I always suggest ‘testing’ yourself on the weekends.  Sort of like simulating race day.  Eat properly the day before, keep yourself hydrated, and just find out what foods help you feel better when you run the long distance or hike a mountain (like I do on every available Sunday).

The basic rule of thumb is that if you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap.  This goes for all your workouts, but especially on race day.  What you put in your body in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to the Tough Mudder will have a signifcant effect on how well your perform.

To start, EAT CLEAN.

What does this mean?  You may hear it often.  It means focusing on natural sugars that are consumed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats.  Getting your nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains gives your body fuel to more easily process and use.  If you load your body with junk, it will be too busy processing what it needs from that junk food. I’ve seen many racers drink energy drinks right before a race, then ‘bonk’ a couple miles in to the course. The bottom line is that highly processed foods will lead to a faster burnout, which translates into struggles to complete the race.

Finding out what natural foods work best for you is done during your training days.  When you consume ‘x’, does it give you energy you need during your training session?  When you eat ‘y’, does it help you recover?  Figuring this out during training, will help you ‘eat clean’ the two weeks before the event.  Keep that consistent, then you’ll be able to train harder

So what should you eat the night before your event?

It’s important what you put in your body the night before.  But if you’ve been figuring out what works for you the day before your weekly ‘test runs’, it shouldn’t be confusing.  Whatever you’ve decided should not give you cramps, make you feel bloated, or cause runners diarrhea but, rather, give you the energy you need for the even.

The big racers rule is, “Do nothing new”.  Once you’ve figured out what works for you, stick with it.  Focus on your body is used to ingesting and keep it consistent.  On race day, samples of energy bars, drinks, and miscellaneous samples are handed out.  Take them, but save them for later.  If you don’t know how it’s going to affect you, don’t take it.

So the night before race, I have my ‘pre-race’ dinner.  However, many people interpret this as ‘carbo-loading’ and tend to overeat.  This will only make you feel sluggish and bloated.  If you’ve eaten so much food, your body may not be able to process it by the next morning and you’ll have much of that food sitting in your gut.  It may also want to make an exit during the race, while your body is already committed to physical activity.  Hence, runners gut.

I have a carb-laden meal the day before my race, but I don’t overdo it.  I know how much food and what kind of food has given me the energy I need for the next day’s event.  Carbohydrate are not only beneficial, but the correct amount increases glycogen – an important resource that our muscles use for energy – so make sure you get what you need, but the secret is to do it in moderation.

Try this: Break your meal into thirds.  1/3 complex carbs (like paste or brown rice).  1/3 protein (like a chicken breast).  1/3 vegetables(fiber).  Be careful not to overload on the fiber as it could cause bloating the next day.  This, of course, is a BASIC guideline.  What foods actually work for you before race day is what you’ve got to determine for yourself.  For example, my plate worked out to be 1/2 carbs, 1/4 protein, 1/4 vegetables.  One of my training partners eats 2/3 carbs, 1/3 protein.  There really is no wrong way to do it, as long as you include carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.water

On race day, DON’T OVERDO YOUR WATER INTAKE.

I’m big water drinker.  I sip throughout the day.  Hydration is important for your performance on race day, but too much of it can lead to cramping, bloating, and diarrhea (with the wrong foods).  So check your fluid intake in the weeks leading up to the race to gauge how much you should drink the day before and the day of the race.

One way to determine if you are adequately hydrating is to check your urine. If you frequently urinate large volumes that are light in color, you’re probably drinking enough water.  If it is darker colored and you are going infrequently, you need to increase your water intake.  It’s really as simple as that…

RACE DAY!

You have to eat on race day.  It’s so crucial because halfway through the race when you’re hungry or losing your energy, there’s no food to grab.

The best race-day breakfast is going to be one that has been successful for you during your training days.  In general, your race day meal should consist mostly of complex carbs, which will provide optimal fuel for your body to burn. Keep it light, but add some protein to stay full longer, and plan to eat 60 to 90 minutes before the race.

Here are some suggestions.

– Bagel and peanut butter
– Oatmeal and banana
– Whole grain toast and almond butter
– Granola and fruitThanksgivingDinner

That’s it!  Of course, make sure you get a good meal in after the race to help recover depleted energy stores.  Get ample protein as well to help with recovery.  Everything you’ve done for preparing for race day doesn’t end at the finish line.  Recovery nutrition is just as important, so you can get back to training for your next race!

Butter

Another post from a friend I wanted to share…

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“Pass The Butter … Please.

This is interesting . .. .

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.

It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavourings….

DO YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter?

Read on to the end…gets very interesting!

  • Both have the same amount of calories.
  • Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.
  • Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.
  • Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
  • Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added!
  • Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods.
  • Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years .
  • And now, for Margarine..
  • Very High in Trans fatty acids.
  • Triples risk of coronary heart disease …
  • Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)
  • Increases the risk of cancers up to five times..
  • Lowers quality of breast milk
  • Decreases immune response.
  • Decreases insulin response.

And here’s the most disturbing fact… HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING!

Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.

These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:

* no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)

* it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.

Why? Because it is nearly plastic . Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Something to think about before passing over the butter for a margarine spread…

BananasA friend of mine shared this on Facebook.  After doing a little research, I found it to be true!

Enjoy!

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BANANAS!

This is interesting. After reading this, you’ll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.

But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

DEPRESSION:
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS:
Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

ANEMIA:
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

BLOOD PRESSURE:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

BRAIN POWER:
200 students at a Twickenham school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

CONSTIPATION:
High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

HANGOVERS:
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

HEARTBURN:
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

MORNING SICKNESS:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

MOSQUITO BITES:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

NERVES:
Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system..

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

ULCERS:
The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chroniclercases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL:
Many other cultures see bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, ‘A BANANA a day keeps the doctor away!’

Shamrock Shake

I hope you are all enjoying the day today.

A friend of mine forwarded this to me and I wanted to share it.

If you’re training for a mud run and absolutely *have* to have this, then I hope it’s your cheat day!  This is pretty horrible, as far as nutrition is concerned, but if you’re going to just get it on a whim, then you might want to consider the nutritional information about it.

It’s eye-opening, but I’d rather know than not know.

 

TacoPieOk, so a friend forwarded this to me.  I passed it along to several other people, some who have actually tried it and said it was awesome.  So… I’m sharing it with you!  🙂

This will probably be enjoyed on my next cheat day…

Enjoy!

TACO PIE
Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup milk
1 package Taco Bell seasoning mix
2 1/2 cups mashed potato flakes (you could also use left over mashed potatoes and omit the butter and milk)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, optional

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter. Add milk and 2 tablespoon taco seasoning. Remove from heat and add potato flakes until incorporated. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch pan.
2. Bake for 7-10 minutes until it just BARELY turns golden brown.
3. In a medium skillet, cook beef and onions until beef is browned and cooked through. Drain. Add Salsa and remaining taco seasoning. Cook until bubbly.
4. Pour into crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
5. Let cool for 5 minutes. Top with cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Cut and serve with sour cream.

It’s hard enough figuring out the right foods to buy at the grocery store when you’re working on staying healthy.  However, one of the things we rarely think about are condiments.  We get to the aisle, shrug, grab what we like or what we think is best.

However, Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Author lays out the top 5 healthiest  and the top 5 not-so-healthy condiment choices.

condiments

The Top 5 Healthiest Condiments (and the WORST)

I’m sure you can think of all sorts of condiments that are obviously NOT healthy…

What about Mayo?  Sorry…

With processed refined soybean oil as the main ingredient in most mayos, there’s NOTHING healthy about mayonnaise.  It causes internal inflammation and harms your omega-6 to omega-3 balance with excess omega-6 fats.   Tartar sauce has the same issues as mayo.  If you can find a mayo made with 100% olive oil instead of soybean oil, this would actually be a healthy choice.

Ketchup?  Not quite…

Yes, ketchup is made from tomatoes so it does contain the beneficial nutrient lycopene.  Unfortunately ketchup has a high % of sugar, and most brands are made with nasty high fructose corn syrup.  Not good.  Hey, I’m a ketchup lover myself, but I just try to keep the quantity small to minimize the sugar intake.

Barbeque Sauce?  Nope…

BBQ sauce is actually worse than ketchup because it has higher levels of sugar or HFCS and lower levels of actual tomato.  Strike 3 with BBQ sauce.

Salad Dressing?  Not most store brands…

There’s not much healthy about most store bought salad dressings…most contain HFCS and soybean oil or unhealthy canola oil as the main ingredients.

Most “fat-free” salad dressings are simply loaded with extra sugar.  Plus, remember that you need a good fat source to go with your salad to help absorb the vitamins and minerals in your veggies, so fat-free dressing is not a good option.  Even most salad dressing brands that claim to be “made with olive oil” only have small amounts of actual olive oil, while unhealthy soybean or canola oils are main oils used.  Instead, try this homemade salad dressing recipe:

  • 1/3rd of container filled with balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3rd of container filled with apple cider vinegar
  • fill the remaining 1/3rd of container with equal parts of extra virgin olive oil and “Udo’s Choice EFA Oil Blend”
  • Add just a small touch (approx 1 or 2 teaspoons) of real maple syrup
  • Add a little bit of onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper and then shake the container to mix all ingredients well.

So, what are the top 5 healthiest condiments?

Below, I give you my top 5 picks for the healthiest condiments for a lean healthy body.  Sure, there might be a few others not on this list that are also healthy, but these are my top 5 picks:

1. Mustard

That’s right… mustard is absolutely one of the healthiest condiments!  First, it has no added sugar.  Also, mustard seed itself is a source of powerful antioxidants.  In addition to the antioxidants in the mustard seed, most yellow mustards also contain turmeric (one of the healthiest anti-cancer spices) and paprika, which both contain powerful antioxidants as well!

2. Guacamole

I know, I know… when do I ever stop talking about avocados and guacamole.  Sorry, it’s one of my favorite foods, and I eat avocados or guacamole just about every single day.  At this point, I don’t think I need to explain why Gaucamole is healthy, as I think everybody knows this by now… but a quick recap:  lots of healthy fats (that satisfy your appetite and regulate hormone balance), lots of fiber, and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

And creamy guac just makes anything taste better!  I put it on eggs, on burgers, on chicken or fish, or just eat it with veggie sticks.  If you buy pre-made guac from the store, just be sure to check the ingredients and make sure it doesn’t have added trans fats or other artificial ingredients.  But it’s so simple and fast to make fresh guac, I don’t know why anybody would buy pre-made guac.

3. Salsa

Although ketchup was on the unhealthy list due to the sugar content, salsa makes the super healthy list as it almost never has added sugars if you get a good brand.  Salsa is mostly just vegetables so it’s hard to go wrong.  I like it on my morning eggs for variety sometimes.  I also like to mix salsa half and half with guacamole for a delicious party treat!

And if you’re a ketchup lover and want to reduce your sugar intake, just try salsa instead for a much healthier option.  Trust me… salsa on a burger is just as delicious as ketchup on a burger.

Just remember that the corn chips that people generally cram down their throats with salsa are NOT even close to healthy.  Corn chips are almost always fried in a heavily refined omega-6 oil such as corn or soy oil, and are inflammatory.  Plus, most corn used for corn chips is genetically modified.   Organic corn chips are a small step in the right direction (this ensures it’s not GMO corn), but I’d still try to keep the quantity small if you’re going to eat corn chips with salsa.

4. Hummus

Hummus is mostly just chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, and olive oil, and is easily one of the healthiest condiments or as a separate snack by itself.

The main thing to look for when buying a good hummus is to make sure it’s made with olive oil and NOT soybean or canola oil.  Unfortunately most brands use cheap soy or canola oil, but if you’re a label reader, it’s easy to find a brand that uses solely olive oil.

One of my favorite snacks is just veggie sticks with hummus.  However, hummus is also a delicious condiment to go with sandwiches, on top of meat dishes, etc.
5. Pesto

Pesto is generally a mashed mix of garlic, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and grated cheese.  It’s a great source of healthy fats and also powerful antioxidants, mostly from the garlic and basil, but to some extent from the pine nuts and olive oil too.

Pesto goes incredibly well with sandwiches, on meat dishes, or surprisingly, even on eggs.

There’s one more condiment we didn’t cover yet that you might be wondering about…

What about hot sauce?  Actually, hot sauce is fairly healthy.  Most hot sauces don’t have added sugars.  And the hot peppers are actually good for you too and could even cause a slight and temporary metabolism increase.  The only drawback to most hot sauces is a moderately high sodium content.   But unless you go nuts with loads of hot sauce on every meal, the sodium content in hot sauce will not be an issue.

So now that you know 5 of the healthiest condiments, don’t be afraid to indulge next time you need one of these tasty additions to your meal.