Ketchup, also occasionally referred to as ‘catsup’, is a condiment that is a staple of cuisine worldwide.
Made primarily from tomatoes, it goes well with a variety of dishes. Typically, it will be used to cover hot dogs and fries, but it is versatile enough to be used with whatever you wish.
Ketchup combines tomatoes with vinegar, sugar, and spices to produce its signature flavor. Sweet, vinegary and flavorsome, it is a mainstay at many dinner tables and restaurants.
Although made from acidic vinegar and often calorific sugar, ketchup can still find a place in a healthy diet, so long as moderation is taken with regard to its consumption.
With sugar as a main ingredient, there are bound to be at least a few calories. But how many carbs are there in ketchup, really?
What Actually Is Ketchup?
Although the recipe will vary from one manufacturer to another, the core ingredients that make up ketchup are usually rather similar.
Tomatoes, sugar, and vinegar are the primary ingredients that give ketchup its flavor. Spices are then added to give it some extra punch, with things like allspice, ginger, cloves and coriander being common choices.
Organic varieties of ketchup are no exception to this, and even supposedly natural products will contain added salt and sugar.
There are many different types of ketchup on the market, often with different and interesting combinations of flavors. Sriracha ketchup is a favorite, but even blends like peri peri ketchup or ketchup-and-mayonnaise are great choices as well.
Due to its simple nature, there aren’t that many nutrients in ketchup. However, it is a condiment, so that is to be expected. Even if there were a lot, you don’t typically use much in a meal anyway.
Ketchup Nutritional Information
In one tablespoon of ketchup (15g) there are:
- 15 calories
- 0.02 grams of fat
- 0.14 grams of salt
- 0.2 grams of protein
- 0.05 grams of fiber
- 4.1 grams of carbs
- Of which, 3.2 grams are sugars
It might be hard to unpack what all that means, so let’s break it down.
15 calories is a relatively small amount for a tablespoon of ketchup, especially when you consider how much you use in a meal.
As such, it can be seen as a relatively healthy option, especially when compared with condiments such as mayonnaise, which can have up to 100 calories per serving.
0.02 grams of fat is a very small amount, enough that it can basically be ignored – especially when compared to the food that the ketchup is being used on.
The amount of salt is quite a lot, but if consumed in moderation and in combination with a balanced diet, it shouldn’t pose any health risks.
With only 0.2 grams of protein, it is a good idea to supplement that with other products, such as the hot dog that ketchup goes so well on!
0.05 grams of fiber is a basically negligible amount. Bread, grains, and pulses typically have far more of this, so it is recommended to fill your fiber requirements from these sources.
Carbs And Sugar
To answer the question of ‘How many carbs in ketchup’, there are 4.1 grams per tablespoon. However, it may not be as simple as that seems.
With 3.2 grams of these carbohydrates being sugar, that leaves only 0.9 grams of regular carbohydrates.
This might seem like a lot, but you have to bear in mind that sugar is typically one of the main ingredients of ketchup. As such, the value is expected to be higher.
Even in this case, the amount of sugar isn’t necessarily too much to cause trouble in a balanced diet.
Health Benefits Of Ketchup
One of the key elements of ketchup that give it value as a health product is, of course, the tomato. Being a fruit, tomato contains a number of vitamins and minerals that help support a balanced lifestyle.
Tomatoes also contain something known as ‘carotenoid lycopene’, usually referred to as just lycopene. This substance is believed to have a number of interesting and beneficial properties, such as:
Although there are studies showing a link between tomato-based products and a reduced risk of certain cancers, like prostate cancer, this link is usually made with things like tomato juice.
However, ketchup still contains the primary ingredient of these studies, so its potential health benefits should not be written off.
Carbs, even sugars, are another key part of a healthy diet. In moderation, the carbs in ketchup can be used to supplement this. It would be hard to consume enough ketchup for it to have a negative effect.
Potential Detriments Of Ketchup
Although perfectly safe when consumed in moderation, there can be some potential downsides when consuming ketchup – especially in excess quantities.
Firstly, it is important to be aware of any allergens in the food. Tomato, its main ingredient, is in this list, but it isn’t the only one.
Latex in the lid of the bottle, as well as cross-contamination with gluten, milk and other products are all things to keep an eye on.
Sugar can also be a concern. With enough sugar in one tablespoon of ketchup to reach 7% of your daily intake value, it could quickly become too much. There aren’t many carbs in ketchup, but watch out for how much you eat.
Ketchup is also rather high in salt. This can lead to heart disease and high cholesterol, so it is important to keep an eye on your overall intake.
Finally, as ketchup is acidic, it can cause heartburn and acid reflux. If you are prone to these things, steer away from excessive consumption of the condiment.
With a mere 4.1 grams of carbs per tablespoon, ketchup isn’t exactly one of the most carb-heavy foods out there. Still, the 3.2 grams of sugar that are within this measurement could be something to watch out for.
While the health benefits of tomatoes are clear, it is uncertain how many of these transfer to the beloved condiment.
In most regards, ketchup is unassuming and safe for typical use. Perfect with fries and hot dogs, there should be few reasons to have to watch out for the amount of ketchup that you use.