Ketchup

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 28. Sep. 2020

Ketchup is one of the most popular ingredients in the U.S., beloved by adults and children alike. But is it healthy?

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Ketchup...

  • ...contains vitamin B1.
    This B vitamin supports nervous system and brain health.
  • ...protects cells.
    Ketchup contains some lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes which helps protect cells against free radical damage.
  • ...contains a lot of sodium.
    Most ketchups contain a high amount of added sodium.
  • ...contains histamines.
    Ketchup contains histamines, which can cause allergic reactions in some.
  • ...is high in sugar.
    Most ketchups contain tons of sugar.

What You Should Know About Ketchup

Ketchup is one of the most beloved condiments not just in the U.S., but around the world.

Origin

Who exactly invented ketchup is still a matter of some debate. Tomato-based condiments and sauces have been produced for centuries around the world, so it's hard to pinpoint the roots of ketchup's modern-day iteration. However the first recorded Western use of the word ketchup comes from British sailors traveling Asia in the 1700s, who began making their own thick tomato relishes probably after encountering the Chinese ket-tsiap, which was much spicier than what the English eventually adopted.  

The British, and eventuall Americans, developed ever new combinations based on tomatoes from the basic recipe, until finally an American company bottled the first pure tomato ketchup in 1876. It was so popular that the word ketchup soon became commonplace for preparation from tomatoes only.

Season

Ketchup is available year round.

Taste

Ketchup taste varies greatly between brands, but in general it has a deep umami flavor with hints of sweetness. 

Find all our recipes with ketchup here.

How Healthy is Ketchup?

Ketchup is far from a fitness food, although it does have certain health benefits. Well-made, fresher ketchups should contain a powerful dose of lycopene, an antioxidant found in abundance in tomatoes which helps protect the body's cells from free-radical damage, and might even help prevent certain types of cancers. Of course, how much lycopene ketchup contains depends greatly on how much actual tomato content is in ketchup. Cheaper brands contain tons of added sugars, sodium and chemical mixers, and less actual tomato. So if you're looking for a healthy ketchup, it's best to do your research and purchase smaller-batch ketchups from local stores. That said, big brand ketchups, like Heinz, might not be particularly healthy, but they're not particularly unhealthy either. They're low in fat and calories, and don't contain cholesterol, making any ketchup a great alternative to fattier condiments like mayonaisse. And while they might be high in sugar and sodium, most people are more than safe eating a hotdog with ketchup once a week. Some of the exceptins includes anyone who has a histamine intolerance, as ketchup can exacerbate an attack, or those with diabetes, as ketchup is high in sugar. 

KETCHUP NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g)  
Calories 112
Protein 2.1 g
Fat 0.3 g
Carbohydrates 24 g
Fiber 0.9 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

If you're looking for a healthier ketchup, pay attention to the label. Look out for the least amount of ingredients as possible, and a variety which lists tomatoes at the top of its ingredients list. You can also always easily make your own!

Storage

Once opened, ketchup stays good for a few months. Storing it in the refrigerator will extend its shelf life even longer.

What to Make With Ketchup

Ketchup is most beloved as a necessary condiment for burgers, hotdogs and french fries, however it can do so much more. It's a suprisingly versatile and powerful ingredient in the kitchen. Try adding a couple dashes next time you're cooking tomato sauce, bolognese, BBQ sauce or a vegetable or tomato soup, for some delicate, sweet-tart flavor. It's also delicious mixed in with salad dressings. 

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