Ketchup Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Ketchup

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Ketchup is a tomato-based condiment commonly used to top foods like French fries or hot dogs. This popular food can also contain other ingredients in addition to tomato concentrate, including vinegar, salt, spices, and even high fructose corn syrup.

The word "catsup" is also used, although ketchup is the more common name in North America. This is the version used by the most popular brands.

Ketchup may be a source of added calories, sugar and sodium, but because it is usually not consumed in large quantities, it can be included in a healthy diet.

Ketchup Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one tablespoon (15g) of tomato catsup.

  • Calories: 15
  • Fat: 0.02g
  • Sodium: 136mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.1g
  • Fiber: 0.05g
  • Sugars: 3.2g
  • Protein: 0.2g

Carbs

A typical serving of ketchup provides 15 calories and has just over 4 grams of carbohydrates. Most of the carbs come from sugar, with well under a gram coming from fiber. A typical packet of ketchup is smaller than a tablespoon (10 grams), so it has fewer calories, carbs, and sugar.

There are some brands of ketchup that contain no added sweeteners. These are likely to have fewer carbs. For example, one unsweetened brand (Primal Kitchen) provides 10 calories, 2g of carbs, and 1g of carbohydrate per one-tablespoon serving.

The estimated glycemic load of a one-tablespoon serving of ketchup is 2, making this a low-glycemic food. Glycemic load takes portion size into account when estimating a food's impact on blood glucose levels.

Fats

Ketchup is very low in fat, providing just 0.02g per serving.

Protein

Ketchup is also low in protein with just 0.2g in each one-tablespoon serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Because ketchup is consumed in such small amounts, it is not a good source of micronutrients. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and vitamin A and can also be a good source of vitamin K, potassium, and manganese (depending on the amount consumed). But you are not likely to consume enough ketchup to get substantial levels of any of these nutrients.

Calories

Again, since ketchup tends to be consumed in small amounts, it is not usually a significant source of calories. One tablespoon has 15 calories.

Health Benefits

Foods like ketchup that are consumed in very small quantities are not likely to have a considerable impact on your health.

Including tomatoes in your diet can provide benefits because they contain lycopene and other compounds with antioxidant potential. But you're not likely to eat enough ketchup to gain these benefits.

However, there are some sources that promote the health benefits of ketchup. It can be helpful to examine the claims and the science behind them. In many cases, the studies cited don't actually support the health benefits of ketchup.

Reduced Risk of Prostate Cancer

A study published in 2010 examined the relationship between tomato-based food products and the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers suggested that tomato-based products contain anticancer phytochemicals that can have an impact on risk levels in men. They also suggested that novel tomato-based food products, also known as functional foods, could be designed to target prostate carcinogenesis.

However, ketchup is not mentioned in the study, except to say that ketchup and tomato juice makes up about 15% of the total tomato-based product consumption in the U.S. The researchers do not suggest that consuming ketchup in typical amounts has any effect on prostate cancer risk.

Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Lycopene in tomatoes is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. One study showed that lycopene supplementation can improve endothelial function in patients with cardiovascular disease but not in healthy volunteers.

However, these researchers did not study the impact of tomatoes or tomato-based foods, just the compound lycopene. So it is unclear whether or not this benefit would be gained by those who consume ketchup in typical amounts.

May Decrease LDL

High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, can lead to increased risk of heart disease. Lycopene can be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular disease risk, and an additional study has found that tomato juice can reduce LDL levels.

Supplementing diets with tomato juice, as this study found, can have a beneficial result on both LDL and HDL ("good" cholesterol). Findings were attributed to tomato juice, not ketchup, so further research would be needed to see the impact of ketchup on the cholesterol levels.

Reduced Risk of Other Diseases

In a published overview of the benefits of lycopene, researchers note that when raw tomatoes are processed using heat, such as in the making of tomato juice, tomato paste, or ketchup, natural lycopene transforms into to a form that is easier for the human body to use.

Study authors mention the strong antioxidant potential of lycopene and note that lycopene may help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovaries, colon, and pancreas.

Ketchup contains 9.9mg to 13.44mg of lycopene per 100 grams, whereas fresh tomatoes contain 0.88mg to 7.44mg of lycopene per 100 grams. While that disparity might make it seem like ketchup contains more lycopene, it's important to consider the typical use of each food.

It is not likely that someone would consume 100 grams of ketchup. One tablespoon is about 15 grams. You would have to consume almost seven servings of ketchup to get 100 grams. A single serving of ketchup would only provide about 1.5mg lycopene. A large, whole tomato, however, can weigh 185 grams or more. If you consume a tomato salad with 200 grams of fresh tomato, you'd benefit from 1.6mg to 15 mg of lycopene.

Allergies

Anyone who is allergic to tomatoes should not consume ketchup. Those who have related allergies (including an allergy to latex or certain grasses) may also have a reaction when consuming ketchup. Oral allergy symptoms may include itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat. Severe cases may involve difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Adverse Effects

People with a gluten intolerance should be cautious when consuming ketchup. While brands don't necessarily include gluten-containing ingredients in their product, ketchup is subject to cross-contamination.

Also, those who are watching their sugar or sodium intake should read the ingredients list and nutrition facts label when choosing ketchup. Many brands include added sugars and most include sodium as an ingredient.

Varieties

There are many different ketchup brands and different styles. The most popular brands contain similar ingredients, such as tomato concentrate, vinegar, sugar, salt, and other flavors and spices. Even organic varieties or those labeled as "natural" are likely to contain added sugar and sodium.

Some brands also offer low-sugar and low-sodium ketchup varieties. You'll also find flavored ketchup and recipes for honey ketchup, curry powder ketchup, sriracha ketchup, mole ketchup, and balsamic vinegar ketchup.

Storage and Food Safety

According to the USDA, commercial condiments like ketchup are usually good for six months if refrigerated after opening. Shelf-stable commercial ketchup is safe when stored at room temperature after opening. Quality, not safety, is the reason the labels on these products suggest that they be refrigerated after opening.

How to Prepare

While you can easily buy ketchup in any grocery store, you can also make it at home. When you make ketchup in your own kitchen you can control the ingredients and make a condiment that fits into your eating pattern.

To make your own ketchup, start with garden-fresh tomatoes. Visit a farmer's market in the summer or grow your own for a flavorful harvest. If fresh tomatoes are not available, buy canned peeled tomatoes with no added sugar or sodium.

Use a slow cooker to cook your tomatoes for 10 to 12 hours, along with seasonings of your choice. These might include salt, celery salt, onion powder, cayenne pepper, clove, black pepper, garlic, or garlic powder. Some people also add Worcestershire sauce or cinnamon.

After the mixture has cooked and softened, use an immersion blender to create a uniform, creamy texture. You can also use a slotted spoon to get rid of any tomato skins. Once cooled, adjust seasoning to taste. Homemade ketchup should be stored in the refrigerator and used within two to three weeks.

Add ketchup to roasted potatoes, scrambled eggs, or your favorite meatloaf recipe. You can also use ketchup as a shrimp cocktail sauce, or make a savory meat marinade by combining it with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sherry. 

7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Tan HL, Thomas-Ahner JM, Grainger EM, et al. Tomato-based food products for prostate cancer prevention: what have we learned?Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2010;29(3):553‐568. doi:10.1007/s10555-010-9246-z

  3. Gajendragadkar PR, Hubsch A, Mäki-Petäjä KM, Serg M, Wilkinson IB, Cheriyan J. Effects of oral lycopene supplementation on vascular function in patients with cardiovascular disease and healthy volunteers: a randomised controlled trial. PLoS One. 2014;9(6):e99070. Published 2014 Jun 9. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099070

  4. Tsitsimpikou C, Tsarouhas K, Kioukia-Fougia N, et al. Dietary supplementation with tomato-juice in patients with metabolic syndrome: A suggestion to alleviate detrimental clinical factors. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014;74:9-13. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2014.08.014

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  7. Ketchup, cocktail, or chili sauce. USDA FoodKeeper App.

By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.