Mustard, ketchup and hot sauce are among the most common and iconic condiments, and they add far more than just flavor to your food. If you're worried about squirting a healthy serving onto your favorite burger, hot dog or sandwich, you can breathe a sigh of relief because these condiments do have nutritional value. Don't douse your food with them, though, because they may contain too much sodium, which certainly isn't good for you.
A teaspoon of mustard contains 3 calories and no fat. You'll get a miniscule dose of calcium, potassium and vitamin A from a teaspoon of mustard, as well. According to a 2013 article published in the "Journal of Food Science," mustard contains several beneficial antioxidants, which are tiny powerhouses that help neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals develop in your body when you come into contact with pollutants and contaminants. They can increase your risk of cancer and heart disease, so consuming plenty of antioxidants can help reduce your risk. While mustard isn't a large source of antioxidants, adding it to sandwiches or salads boosts your intake a tiny amount, and every little bit helps.
A tablespoon of ketchup has 19 calories and no fat. The same serving supplies tiny amounts of calcium, potassium and vitamin C. More notably, a tablespoon of ketchup delivers 87 international units of vitamin A, a nutrient that keeps your peepers healthy. Ketchup also contains lycopene, which is a carotenoid that has antioxidant properties, according to MayoClinic.com. Lycopene might reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease and eye disorders, though more research is necessary to determine if there is a strong link or not.
A teaspoon of hot sauce contains 1 calorie and no fat. You'll also get a tiny dose of potassium and vitamin A. The same serving of hot sauce also supplies 3.5 milligrams of vitamin C -- an antioxidant that helps protect you from the damage caused by free radicals. Since free radicals are dangerous, getting plenty of vitamin C is one way to boost your health. Hot sauce also contains capsaicin, which is another potent antioxidant, and it's what makes hot sauce such a mouth-zinging condiment. Capsaicin might lower your risk of prostate cancer and reduce the mouth pain often associated with cancer treatment, according to the American Cancer Society. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that topical capsaicin can reduce the pain and inflammation associated with psoriasis and other skin conditions.
One drawback to eating mustard, ketchup and hot sauce is the amount of sodium the condiments contain, so think about portion sizes before preparing your next meal. Sodium is added to improve the flavor and prolong the shelf life of these condiments, but too much sodium is bad for your heart. A teaspoon of mustard contains 57 milligrams of sodium, which might seem like nothing to worry about, but it is about 2 percent of your daily 2,300-milligram limit. A tablespoon of ketchup contains 154 milligrams of sodium and a teaspoon of hot sauce has 124 milligrams. Look for reduced-sodium versions of your favorite condiments so that you can reap the nutritional benefits they offer without eating too much sodium.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Catsup
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Mustard, Prepared, Yellow
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Sauce, Ready-to-Serve, Pepper or Hot
- National Institutes of Health: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin A
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C
- Journal of Food Science: Antioxidant Extraction from Mustard (Brassica juncea) Seed Meal Using High-Intensity Ultrasound
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cayenne
- American Cancer Society: Capsicum
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.