Tuesday, 28 April 2015


Ketchup is our favourite condiment.
It is made from tomato, so it is healthy, isn't it?
It contains lots of sugar. So it is not so healthy, is it?
My kids - as every kid - love ketchup. So I had to make a decision: ketchup or not ketchup?

Is ketchup good for you?

If you think, "Hey what's wrong with you? Ketchup is tomato and tomato is a healthy veg." - then this post is for you.
I am not keen on ketchup, I rarely eat it. But sometimes I feel adequate to complement a nice burger or chips with ketchup.

Ketchup is arguably kids' favourite condiment. My daughters love it too. But I am a bit careful with ketchup. I have to two reasons to be:

Reason #1

Ketchup is not as healthy as it looks like. Ketchup is a relatively low-calorie condiment, 15-20 calories per 15g, which is not too bad compared to mayonnaise (102 calories per 15g). The 15g recommended serving size is not too much, but not too less either, it is just enough. It is okay if you are on a weight loss diet.
Ketchup made from tomatoes, vinegar, spices, sugar and salt. If you are happy to see your kids eating lots of ketchup because you think at least they eat veg, think again. Ketchup is not tomato. Ketchup is highly processed food made from tomatoes. It still has a few benefits of tomatoes: high in lycopene and contain Vitamin A and C. Most of the ketchup come with this innocent message: I am healthy, I am nothing else than only tomato. But it is not only tomato. The problem is the high sugar and salt content. 100g ketchup contains 25g sugar and about 3g salt. This is really high - as this sugar content is mainly added sugar not the natural sugar content of tomato. Also, the sweetness from sugar overwhelm the taste of tomato. Actually ketchup prevents us to taste the real flavours, and this is my second, - and bigger- concern.

Reason #2

My second reason against ketchup is that it covers all another flavour. Well, it could be an advantage too, as most of the failed meals can be saved by it... only joking. The problem is that ketchup can be addictive: it does not matter how the meal tastes, ketchup is there and fade every real flavour. It goes with about every fast and take away food: french fries, burgers, pizza, eggs, bacon, deli meats. And slowly there is no food without ketchup...A lots of ketchup. Some people take their ketchup with them everywhere - just because they want to be sure they can have it with every meal, everywhere... Kids are crying out for ketchup and throw a tantrum if they cannot have it...
I see my daughter licking ketchup from her finger... and I am worried. She likes vegetables, enjoys fruits, eats most of the home-made meal what I prepare... and I do not want ketchup to ruin all my hard work.
So ketchup is a rare guest at our table. It is not prohibited, but I am really careful, when and how much goes onto our plate. We have tried reduced sugar and salt ketchup, but some of them tastes awful.
So I experimented with a home-made ketchup which proved to be a big success. My kids love it and I am happy too. It is so simple to make that I am wondering why I did not try this before. :-)

6 tips how to keep ketchup within reasonable limits

1. Do not eat more than the recommended serving size: 15g - about one heaped tablespoon.

2. Use ketchup as every condiment with a limitation: the easiest way to do this if you remove the jar/bottle from the table after helping yourself. So there is no temptation.

3. Choose reduced salt and sugar ketchup and also check the tomato content and ingredients list on the label.

4. Make your own healthy version: home-made ketchup recipe here.

5.  Look for alternatives: sometimes a nice tomato salsa does the job: mash up fresh or canned tomatoes with onions, green peppers and a little bit of olive oil.

6. Eating more home-made food with lots of herbs - like hearty soups and stews help you enjoy the real taste of food without reaching for ketchup

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