SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – When you think health, you probably never conjure up images of French fries or hot dogs. But even those guilty pleasures can come with a surprising health benefit — the toppings.
“From cumin to coriander, to pepper, to mustard to ketchup, they’re food enhancers that add nutrients,” says Dr. Eric Braverman, a doctor of integrative medicine.
In ketchup, for example, lycopene is the antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes their bright red color. It’s also considered an anti-cancer agent, and helpful for male fertility.
But not all ketchups are created equal.
“Organic ketchup will have three times the lycopene of conventional ketchup, and that’s a big difference,” Lauren Slayton foodtrainers.net says.
Mustard also packs a one-two nutritional punch. That’s because mustard contains mustard seeds, which are in the same family of foods as broccoli and cabbage. The seeds are a strong anti-cancer agent and may also help reduce symptoms of asthma and arthritis.
Also check for tumeric on your mustard label.
“The tumeric is a strong anti-inflammatory, and they think it accounts for lower rates of Alzheimer’s in many parts of the world,” Slayton says.
If you love a hotdog, top it with sauerkraut. It’s fermented cabbage that’s low in calories and loaded with helpful bacteria for your digestion.
To balance out a burger, if you can stand the heat, try some hot sauce. It has a long list of nutritional and weight-loss benefits.
“It’s good for our nasal passages and your breathing in general — that’s just from the direct hotness,” Slayton says. “That same thing that makes you sweat is what helps your metabolic rate increases a little bit.”
Over the last 18 months, Janet Jenkins has made condiments an important part of her diet and lost more than 40 pounds — even enjoying an occasional hot dog.
“I’m one of these unusual people that puts sauerkraut and actually mustard and ketchup at the same time,” she says. “I feel guilty afterward because it’s a hot dog, but it tastes so good.”
(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)