My role at the Cleveland Clinic provides me the opportunity to analyze food records from patients. Of the hundreds I review, I find several trends. One common food that I see a lot of is the use of mayonnaise on sandwiches. I often say that if you actually knew what was in mayonnaise, you probably wouldn’t eat it. With egg yolks, sugar and salt topping the ingredient list for most popular mayonnaise varieties, it’s clearly not a choice that will make you more healthy and beautiful.
Although there are many varieties of mayo today, from vegan versions to ones made with healthier oils such as olive or canola, the one tip I often give my patients when it comes to adding more zip to their sandwich is to look beyond mayonnaise to other, more beautiful spreads—ones that provide just as much taste and a whole host of health benefits to go with it. Here are five delicious spreads to consider come meal time.
Adding avocado to your sandwich could mean a more beautiful mouth. That’s because avocado consumption has been linked with a decreased risk of oral cancer, according to a 2007 study. In addition to helping decrease your cancer risk, avocado can also work towards keeping your diet beautiful too. A 2013 study found that avocado lovers had better diets and a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Mash some avocado in a bowl with your favorite spices, garlic and onion, or go basic and simply spread it right out of the shell onto a piece of 100 percent whole grain bread.
Edamame Hummus Spread
Soy gets a bad rap, but the truth is, it’s chock-full of healthy benefits. Soy consumption has been linked with helping to decrease blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, and it may even play a role in reducing the risk of some types of breast cancer. That’s right, reducing the risk. Although soy has traditionally been seen as “bad” for breast cancer survivors, the scientific literature would suggest otherwise. Both a 2009 study and a 2010 study found that soy could actually lower the recurrence of breast cancer, while another 2009 study found that consuming soy early in life actually helped decrease breast cancer risk. Now that you hopefully aren’t afraid anymore, how about some edamame as a dip or spread? You can buy edamame hummus at most stores or make it yourself to use in a vegetable wrap.
Black Bean Spread
Beans top my list of the best good-for-you food—and for good reason: Legume consumption has been linked to better blood sugar control, as part of a low-glycemic diet, and reduced cardiac risk in diabetic patients, as well as a lower risk for overall inflammation in the body. Plus, beans are loaded with fiber, which helps to reduce belly fat. There are tons of beautiful black bean spread recipes online. Find one and swap out for any sandwich you use mayo or mustard.
Olive Spread (Tapenade)
Want to protect your bones and brain? Try tapenade for a spread. A 2012 study found that consuming a Mediterranean diet, which is loaded with olive oil, can help protect your bones, and a 2013 study found that olive oil has potential in helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well. If that weren’t exciting enough, how about its ability to influence your genes to improve your health? That’s right. A 2010 study found that a Mediterranean diet actually altered gene function to help improve heart health. Beat that one, mayonnaise. Use tapenade on pizza, as a topping on lentil or salmon burgers, or simply spread alone on a crusty 100 percent whole grain baguette.
Mustard—even the cheap yellow kind!—is one of the most beautiful spreads out there. Why? Because it’s got lots of turmeric—a spice (main active ingredient, curcumin) that’s been linked to everything from improving liver health, decreasing the risk for certain cancers and even helping as a treatment for tendonitis. Use mustard on turkey sandwiches or mixed into canned salmon or tuna for a yummy seafood salad option.There’s a beautiful world beyond the calorie-, fat- and sugar-laden mayonnaise. Your sandwiches—and your body—are screaming out for a different choice. Now you have five healthy spreads to choose from.