Toppings can make a big difference in what a burger does for your health. These tasty 10 are easy to grill or add afterwards and each one contributes different combinations of vitamins, minerals, and other disease-fighting nutrients that you won’t find in barbecue or other burger sauces.
Buy organic vegetables whenever possible. Although most of the ones below can be eaten raw, grilling them separately before topping a cooked burger brings out more flavors. Brushing with balsamic vinegar will enhance sweetness. Brushing lightly with extra virgin olive oil will enrich taste while adding negligible calories.1. Onions
Powerful sulfur compounds, minerals, and antioxidants in onions help to control blood-sugar levels and protect against heart disease, cancer, infections, and viruses, and are good for digestion.2. Tomatoes
Cooking brings out sweetness, reduces acidity, and enhances the cancer-fighting properties of lycopene, a strong antioxidant found in tomatoes also helps the heart. Don’t be afraid to grill them.3. Bell Peppers
Also known as sweet peppers, green, red, yellow, orange, or purple ones get even sweeter on the grill. Red ones are another good source of lycopene but in any color, peppers contain combinations of nutrients that protect the eyes and lungs and reduce risk of rheumatoid arthritis.4. Mushrooms
There are many varieties of mushrooms but coffee-colored crimini mushrooms, easy to find, are especially rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They improve your resistance to infections and protect against mental decline and cancer. White button mushrooms are also high in antioxidants and beneficial for overall health.5. Pineapple
High in vitamin C and other antioxidants, pineapple also contains other vitamins and minerals that are essential for energy production. And, it can protect against age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.6. Avocado
Topping a cooked burger with two to three thin slices, or 2 tablespoons, adds only 50 calories. Avocadoes are rich in healthy fats, potassium, and other minerals and vitamins and contain no cholesterol or sodium, a good combination for the heart, skin and overall health.7. Organic Cheese Slices
Regular processed cheese that is a staple on burgers may contain pesticide residues, hormones, food dyes, and aluminum. Burger-friendly organic cheese slices are a healthier option. As an example, Organic Valley slices (www.organicvalley.coop
) come in several varieties, including mild cheddar, Monterey Jack reduced fat, provolone, baby Swiss, and Meunster.8. Goat Cheese
Spread a little soft goat cheese or lightly sprinkle some crumbles on an almost-done burger for a lot of flavor with relatively few calories. Experiment with herb-flavored versions.9. Salsa
Among our most popular condiments, salsa is the healthiest and the lowest in calories. Add as much as you like to your burger.10. Uncured Bacon
Bacon isn’t a particularly healthy food but if you don’t go overboard and the rest of your diet is pretty good, it isn’t going to kill you. Uncured bacon is a healthier option than the regular kind, because cured meats increase risk for cancer. Calories per slice vary from approximately 30 to 70, and grilling or microwaving it on paper towel, instead of pan frying, will drain off a lot of fat.
These toppings will also work with other grilled meats and poultry. Experiment with different combinations to create your own signature dishes that become new family traditions.