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 to describe the condiment, although ketchup is the more common name in North America because this version of the word is used by the most popular brands, including Hunts and Heinz.

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

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: 0.16g

Carbs

A typical serving of ketchup provides just 15 calories and has just over 4 grams of carbohydrates. Most of the carbs come from sugar with far less than a gram coming from fiber. If you consume a typical packet of ketchup, you will consume a smaller portion, just 10 grams, so you'll consume fewer calories, carbs, and sugar.

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

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. Keep in mind, however, that ketchup is often used to add flavor to high-fat foods, such as hot dogs and French fries.

Protein

Ketchup is also low in protein with just 0.16g in each one-tablespoon serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Because ketchup is consumed in such small amounts, it is not a good source of micronutrients. The main ingredient, 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.

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 there may be an opportunity to create novel tomato-based food products, also known as functional foods, that are specifically designed to target prostate carcinogenesis.

While this study is cited by some sources as a health benefit of ketchup, the condiment 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. In fact, one particular study is mentioned in a report about the health benefits of ketchup. The study shows 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. So it is unclear whether or not this benefit would be gained by those who consume ketchup in typical amounts.

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 to utilize by the human body.

Study authors mention the strong antioxidant potential of lycopene and note that lycopene is sometimes used by the general public to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovaries, colon, and pancreas.

Researchers also note that ketchup contains 9.9–13.44 mg of lycopene per 100 grams, whereas fresh tomatoes contain just 0.88–7.44 mg 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 1.5 mg of 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 1.6 to 15 mg of lycopene.

Better Weight Management

Ketchup is low in calories, although the number of calories can vary from brand to brand. Ketchup also adds flavor without adding substantial calories. If you use ketchup to replace higher-calorie condiments such as tartar sauce or mayonnaise, you'll be able to cut fat grams and calories for better weight loss or weight management.

Allergies

Anyone who is allergic to tomatoes should not consume ketchup. Those who have related allergies (including a latex allergy or an allergy to 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

Certain people should be cautious when consuming ketchup. For example, it is possible that some ketchup brands contain gluten. While brands don't necessarily include gluten-containing ingredients in their product, the condiment 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, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, salt, and other flavors and spices. Even organic varieties or those labeled as "natural" are likely to contain added sugar and added sodium.

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

When It's Best

While tomatoes are harvested only in the summer, ketchup is available all year long in any supermarket. You'll find it in the condiment aisle of most major markets.

Storage and Food Safety

According to the USDA, commercial condiments like ketchup are usually good for six months if refrigerated after opening. The organization also notes that 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 healthy 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, sodium, or preservatives.

Use a slow cooker to cook your tomatoes for 10–12 hours, along with seasonings of your choice. Consider adding 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 creamier texture. You can also use a slotted spoon to get rid of any tomato skins. Once cooled, adjust the seasoning to taste. Homemade ketchup should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 2-3 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. 

Recipes

Healthy Tomato Recipes to Try

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Article Sources
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