Nutritional Breakdown: Revamping America’s Favorite Condiment: Ketchup [Recipe]


Ketchup can get healthier, and under 5 minutes!

Ketchup is the mother of all condiments. It’s sweet and salty and pairs with just about anything,  even when the combo seems intuitively odd. I, for instance, have long praised the healing powers of ketchup and white rice, and a friend of mine can’t bear to eat scrambled eggs without it. Ketchup has carved an indelible spot in our food psyches – it’s a classic that some estimates claim can be found in 97% of U.S. households.

Tracing its origins to China, Ketchup was first introduced in the U.S. in 1837. By 1900, ketchup was sold by more than 100 manufacturers. In 1872, HJ Heinz introduced his version of the condiment at the Philadelphia Fair, and to this day, the recipe has remained unchanged. Over the years, first for sanitary reasons and later for marketing’s sake, the FDA has developed strict guidelines concerning the consistency of ketchup and ingredients in it.

Behind the classic lies not so uplifting stats. Ingredients in Heinz Ketchup include tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavoring. While the list is relatively simple, high-fructose corn syrup is a known culprit, so much to the point that many are beginning to backfire, claiming it is “unfairly maligned.” Truth is, it deserves the flack!

In a 2010 Princeton University study, researchers found that high-fructose corn syrup leads to considerable weight gain, at a rate higher than other sweeteners. According to the study, which was administered on rats, those fed high-fructose corn syrup gained much more weight than those fed table sugar, even with the same caloric intake. The lab animals on a long-term high-fructose corn syrup diet experience abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the belly. Researchers noted that even rats on a high-fat diet don’t gain weight to that extent.

In 1 tablespoon of Heinz Ketchup, there are 20 calories, 160 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, and 4 grams of sugar. The benefits deriving from the plum tomatoes are outweighed by the compounding calorie, sodium, and sugar dosages. Whoever just stops at 1 tablespoon? A few tablespoons in, and you’ve got yourself a condiment that threatens meal-status.

A condiment should never derail a diet, but many of us don’t know when to stop dipping, because serving sizes are never that clean cut. That’s why I’ve put together this simple homemade ketchup that you can whip up without laboring over the stove, risking your fries going frigid.

Using the same elements – tomatoes, sweetener, and vinegar – I’ve upped the ante on their health benefits. Maple syrup is one of the healthiest sweeteners on the market, with a lower glycemic index than other mainstream sugars. Apple cider vinegar, especially one that is indicated as “raw,” is full of vitamins, minerals, pectin, and beta-carotene. It also boasts many benefits – treats sunburn, helps weight loss, removes teeth stains, cures severe acne, treats digestive ailments, fights allergies, and reduces cholesterol.


2-minute Homemade Ketchup

Makes just over 1 cup


  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water


Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. No cooking required!




Add lukewarm water by the teaspoon to reach the consistency you crave.


Serve aside sweet potato French fries or lather on top of a vegan chickpea burger!


Bon Appetit!

Aylin Erman currently resides in Istanbul and is creator of plant-based recipe website GlowKitchen.

Images: Overthinking Me, Aylin Erman