What the heck is a healthy condiment?
Have you ever heard the saying, “a little goes a long way?” It is true!
When using a condiment or a hot sauce, the more you consume, the taste will be more pronounced on your palate. If the condiment or hot sauce is hot and spicy, you will taste the spiciness mixed with the heat of the peppers. If the hot sauce has a strong vinegar presence, you will mostly taste the acid from the vinegar.
When tasting a hot sauce, your palate must be able to enjoy the flavors of each ingredient. A hot sauce is supposed to make your dish tastefully enjoyable. Your mouth should welcome each flavor and not feel overwhelmed by the heat from the peppers.
Where does the heat come from?
Not all peppers are hot. Each year, hot peppers are tested and recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. Since 2013, the Carolina Reaper has been holding on to the stage as the hottest pepper in the world. In 2017, a new pepper made its way to the testing as probably the hottest, the Dragon’s Breath Pepper. But because more testing is necessary, the Carolina Reaper is still sitting at the number one spot.
Several condiments and hot sauces are meant to spice up dishes. And for very few calories, a wonderful hot and spicy condiment not only adds heat to your food, but it can also add flavor. Not all hot sauces are the same, and definitely, not all condiments are the same.
Some hot sauce contains more heat than others. The heat of a hot sauce is measured by the type of pepper used. The hot sauce gets its burn or heat from a chemical compound found in hot peppers called capsaicin. Taste also differs.
Capsaicin is concentrated in the inner white pith or rib of the chile pepper. The seeds are also coated with some capsaicin. Many people will argue that the seeds are hotter and unbearable, but every palate is different.
Several condiments, sauces, etc., get their taste from fruit flavors, herbs, and spices. Many manufacturers or food creators are opting not to add any preservatives which is a good idea. As food allergies are increasing, we are all in a race to find the best and most healthy food to feed ourselves and our families.
It is all about living a healthy lifestyle and cooking Caribbean-inspired meals.
What about calories?
You will be happy to learn that one teaspoon of hot sauce has zero calories. Most hot sauces also contain vitamin C. As far as other types of condiments, sauces, dips, and spreads; it is always recommended to read the nutrition labels.
Although some folks believe spicy foods including hot sauce is a stomach irritant, researchers think that capsaicin can help decrease the risk of peptic ulcers. Though too much can also irritate your stomach — the ideal amount still needs to be further studied. Studies have shown that it can slightly increase your metabolism several hours after eating.
Lastly, always remember that all condiments, dips, and spreads are not the same. Always remember to read the labels and continue doing your research.
Originally published on Caribbean Green Living on April 17, 2018