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 Foods: Seasonings 

Flavorings come mostly from foods such as lemons, oranges, almonds, or vanilla beans. These concentrated liquid extracts have little nutritional value and are mostly employed in flavoring baked goods, drinks, or candies. These extracts also should be kept out of direct light in tightly sealed dark glass to prevent spoiling.

Typically, in our culture, what is used most often for seasonings are some processed foods that have generally been well accepted as toppings or dressings for many dishes. Besides refined salt, which is used in great excess, and mustard, which is a more natural blend of the oily mustard seed, catsup, and mayonnaise, often called "salad dressing," are very common. Catsup is a tomato-based sauce often made with sweeteners, salt, and additives (though there are now more natural catsups) that goes with the highly eaten hamburger and french fries and, for some people, with eggs and other dishes. Mayonnaise is a gelatinous blend of eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, lemon juice, flavorings, and additives as well. It is high in calories and fats, with some nutritional value. Mayonnaise is commonly used on sandwiches, as the basis of salad dressings and sauces, in salads such as potato salad and cole slaw, and mixed into other dishes for flavoring. Many people overuse this tasty dressing.

Then there are the real salad dressings?the liquid flavoring for salad that is composed of mixes of the vegetable oils, vinegars or lemon, the basic condiments, and/or the various seasonings. The manufactured varieties are usually high in chemical additives, and I recommend either purchasing natural dressings or making them at home fresh.

Sweeteners are a large category of highly used flavorings for foods. We speak of a "sweet tooth," meaning a craving for sweets, but this is a strange term, since the eating of sugary foods is rather destructive to the tooth enamel because of its support for germ growth. All of these sweeteners other than the current chemical sweets are simple sugars or carbohydrate foods that provide quick energy. They are easily assimilated and converted into blood sugar, which is potential energy for the cells. However, a concern is that these sweeteners overstimulate the hormonal glands, the pancreas and adrenals, and cause problems in blood sugar, energy, and emotions. Most of these sweeteners are low in or devoid of nutrition.

White refined sugar, extracted from the sugar beet or sugarcane, is the prime example and the most used of these destructive sweeteners. Most things are tolerated in sensible quantities but the desire for sweet tastes has generated an excessive use by the food industry and by ourselves. There are literally tablespoonfuls of sugar in a can of soda pop. It is present in most of the aforementioned condiments, in baby foods, and in most pastries, candies, cookies, other baked goods, and syrups and jellies. The excessive use of sugar can deplete certain vitamins and minerals that are needed to metabolize it, and its use has been associated with dental caries, pyorrhea, diabetes, hypoglycemia, obesity, nervous system disorders, and mental illness. Obesity and diabetes are associated further with increases in atherosclerosis, heart disease, nerve disease, and cancer. More information on sugar is in Chapter 2, Carbohydrates, and in many other books, particularly Sugar Blues by William Dufty (Warner Books, 1976).

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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