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Is Ketchup Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Benefits
Nutrition

Is Ketchup Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Benefits

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on October 12, 2022
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7 min

Tomatoes are considered beneficial to health because of the antioxidants they contain. Can the same benefits be obtained if they are consumed in the form of ketchup? We will tell you all about this condiment.

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Oh, ketchup! That red sweetness that gives life to burgers, pastas, chips, and anything else you can think of. What would we do without it?

It is no coincidence that this condiment has been part of cooking recipes all over the world for more than 200 years; its versatility and flavor make it special and even part of popular culture.

But is ketchup healthy enough to continue using it in our favorite dishes? Or maybe that tomato paste that hides ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup is harmful to our health?

Fortunately, even though tomato ketchup is a common accompaniment to our food, it is not too late to learn all the details of this sauce.

 Find out everything the Health Reporter team has recently discovered about ketchup here.

Is Ketchup Healthy?

Unfortunately, tomato ketchup is a processed product high in sugar, so we cannot consider it a healthy food. In addition, many ketchup brands include high fructose corn syrup, which is harmful to health. Corn syrup is a type of sugar derived from corn starch.

High fructose corn syrup is an additive that is much sweeter than regular sugar and also much cheaper. If you eat ketchup frequently with this ingredient, you may suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, and other metabolic problems.

While it is true that it is made from tomato concentrate and tomatoes are very healthy, this tomato sauce also contains preservatives and large amounts of sodium.

However, ketchup may be used in moderation because it is low in fat and calories, and while the calories it provides are regarded as “empty” owing to its low nutritional value, it can be part of a balanced and nutritious diet.

5 Health Benefits of Ketchup

Until now, we knew that the most relevant benefit of ketchup was to provide an explosion of flavor to our French fries, but beyond pleasing our palate, we were happy to discover that some health benefits can also be attributed to the much-loved condiment.

The benefits are mainly due to the lycopene that comes from natural tomatoes and is concentrated when cooked, as is the case with products such as ketchup.

#1 Helps fight inflammation

When we talk about eating ketchup and its benefits, we talk about tomatoes, and this fruit is rich in lycopene, a carotenoid that helps fight inflammation and free radicals to improve overall health.

#2 Suitable for weight loss diets

Although there are some ketchup brands that contain a lot of sugar, there are also healthier alternatives without added sugar and less sodium. But, whatever the brand of ketchup, it is usually a condiment that is consumed in small quantities, which means you will only be consuming about 17 calories if you add a 15g spoonful to your plate.

In addition, tomato ketchup is a product that has virtually no fat, which significantly reduces its caloric content. While it is not considered a healthy product, you can consume it in moderation, and it won’t affect your progress.

#3 Saturated fat-free

Ketchup is a plant-based product free of saturated fats. This is beneficial mainly for people with cardiovascular risk since saturated fats are associated with heart problems.

For the general population, it is also a suitable product for a low-saturated-fat diet as the American Heart Association recommends no more than 13g per day, corresponding to 5–6% of the total calories in the diet. 

#4 Protects against different types of cancer

Although ketchup is not a first-line option for treating any disease, its content of antioxidants such as lycopene may be favorable for some types of cancer, such as stomach and prostate cancer.

According to some studies, tomato-based products, such as tomato juice or ketchup, contain a high bioavailability of lycopene due to the process used in their preparation. This antioxidant is degraded into easier molecules to absorb, thus attributing these anticarcinogenic properties. 

#5 Reduces the risk of osteoporosis

The lycopene in tomatoes has been associated with a decrease in bone resorption, which is a process that decreases bone tissue causing bone deterioration. Increased bone resorption leads to osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures.

Ketchup Nutrition Facts

Although many brands of tomato ketchup contain high fructose corn syrup, there are still some health benefits to be gained, thanks to its nutritional content. 

The following table describes the nutrients in this condiment.

Nutritional value (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Calories (kcal)117 
Sodium (mg)949 
Net Carbs (g)26.8 
Fiber (g)
Sugar (g)21.8 
Fats (Total)0.55 
Protein (g)1.1 
Cholesterol (mg)

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/747693/nutrients

Low in calories and fats

Depending on the brand of ketchup, one tablespoon can contain only 17–25 calories. The challenge with this condiment is to eat just one tablespoon to include it in your diet without it sabotaging your progress.

Low-sugar versions are available on the market, which means they only contain the sugars that come naturally from the tomatoes, which are also fat-free, making it a light sauce. That is why when compared to its partner in crime, mayonnaise, the latter ends up being much more caloric because it is prepared from oil and egg yolks, which increases the calories significantly.

Low in proteins

Ketchup is made from tomatoes, vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices, without any protein-contributing ingredient other than the tomato, which is really low in this macronutrient. With barely 1g per 100g serving, ketchup is not considered a high-protein food.

High in carbohydrates and sugars

Tomato is a fruit, so it is a source of carbohydrates and natural sugars, but sugar and corn syrup are added in the processing of tomato concentrate. This should be considered if you follow a keto diet, which allows between 20–50g of carbohydrates per day, and one serving of ketchup contains 26.8g.

The idea is to consume only 1 tablespoon, which will not provide more than 5g of carbohydrate, or choose unsweetened ketchup, which only contains 1g of carbohydrate per serving.

High in minerals

Ketchup is a product derived from tomatoes that is in high demand among consumers, but not exactly for its health benefits.

However, although it does not replace fruits and vegetables in their natural form, this condiment contains some vitamins and minerals that are worth taking advantage of while enjoying it. The minerals that ketchup contains in greater proportion are magnesium with 13.5mg and potassium with 249mg per 100g serving of the product.

Homemade Ketchup Recipe

Zucchini pasta with Neapolitan sauce

  • 2.2 lb of tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Half a cup of low-sugar organic ketchup
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • Water
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring the tomatoes to a boil in a pot with enough water to cover them. Remove from heat when their skins begin to peel.
  1. Carefully remove the skins from the tomatoes and blend them together with the onions, garlic cloves, basil, 1/2 cup of low-sugar ketchup, and two cups of water.
  1. Add the tomato mixture to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Add oregano, a touch of sea salt, and black pepper. Let cook until the liquid is reduced and turns a dark red color. Set aside.
  1. Cut off the ends of the zucchini and make thin, elongated pasta-like cuts. You can also use a vegetable cutter that cuts the zucchini in a spiral similar to spaghetti.
  1. Sauté your cut zucchini in a hot pan with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt until they remove a little liquid but are not too dry.
  1. Serve your zucchini gluten-free pasta and top with a good amount of your healthy ketchup Neapolitan sauce. Enjoy a very low-carb, light, and flavorful recipe!

Tip: You can prepare this Neapolitan sauce in large quantities and store it in sterile glass containers with lids. This way, you will have a healthy sauce on hand whenever you feel the urge.

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FAQs

How much sugar is in ketchup?

Regular ketchup contains 21.8g of sugar, which comes in part from the tomatoes and the additional sugar added as part of the recipe for its preparation.

How much sugar is in a tablespoon of ketchup?

1 tablespoon of regular ketchup may contain 3–5g of sugar.

Does ketchup have added sugar?

Yes, the original recipe contains added sugar, tomatoes, salt, and spices. In addition, many brands contain added corn syrup, which is also a type of sugar derived from corn.

How many carbs are there in a tablespoon of ketchup?

Ketchup contains 4g of carbohydrates in 15g per tablespoon.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

When you are on a diet, the last thing you want is to eat boring and tasteless food. For this reason, we always recommend choosing a couple of sauces or condiments that are your favorites and that you can use in small amounts so you don’t miss your goal.

Ketchup is one of those options you can keep on hand, especially if you choose its lower sugar and corn-syrup-free versions. This tomato paste, with its distinctive sweet and sour taste, is not a healthy addition, but it will add a special touch to that meal you want to enjoy on the weekend.

On the other hand, to avoid adding calories to your recipes and resist the temptation of always having to complement with condiments, use spices since they contain 0 calories. Some that will give full flavor to your dishes are ground garlic, basil, oregano, turmeric, paprika, cumin, mustard seeds, and dill.

You can always make smart choices in the kitchen to lose weight without much sacrifice.

Enjoy organic ketchup if it’s on your list of favorites, but use it sparingly, only a couple of times a week. And, for the rest of the days, if tomatoes are your weakness, make your own ketchup by cooking tomatoes with spices! This way, you’ll control the amount of added sugar and salt and have a preservative-free product.

Conclusion

Tomato ketchup and tomato juice, like other derivatives of this fruit, are products high in sugar and additives, such as high fructose corn syrup, and therefore are not considered a healthy food.

However, if eaten in moderation, some benefits of ketchup can be reaped from its lycopene content, a potent anti-inflammatory.

You can find many versions of this condiment with less sugar on the market, made with organic tomatoes and low salt content, which you can consume fairly often without adding a lot of calories to your diet.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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