Ketchup – America’s Top Condiment
Ketchup is easily one of the most used condiments in America. Surprisingly, ketchup has been around for a very long time, with it first being mentioned and used in ancient China. However, the ketchup then was not made with tomatoes like it is now, instead it was made with parts of fish, meat, and soy. The idea was to create a condiment, or a flavor, that could travel on ships and not spoil. Having flavoring or spice to easily add to food was not easy to create at the time. As centuries went on, ketchup adapted to mean different concoctions of foods to add flavor without the worry of quick expiration. Now it is known as the sweet tomato sauce that many people dip their french fries in, or lather on their burger, and is usually the first condiment seen at restaurants on the table. As there usually is in everything that is mass-produced to meet high demand, however, there are often ingredients that are in your regular ketchup that are best to steer away from. The next time you go to the store to buy that familiar red bottle for your home, you may want to pick the organic ketchup instead, and here’s why.
What’s in Regular Ketchup?
As with most things that we have been purchasing and consuming since we were kids, we often buy our foods without taking even a second glance at the ingredient list. Because of this, we are often consuming ingredients that can be detrimentally affecting our health. We often hear about how prevalent high fructose corn syrup and soy products are in our foods, and how unhealthy they are for us, and yet we continue to purchase products that contain massive amounts of each ingredient. Ketchup is not void of unhealthy ingredients, much like most foods. Here are some of the ingredients that it is always better to keep out of your daily diet:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: It takes one simple search to see why high fructose syrup is extremely bad for your health, and yet it can be found in the majority of pre-packaged foods that require a sugar of some sort. Consuming too much high fructose corn syrup can contribute to diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease, and more. Utilizing high fructose corn syrup has become an easy way for corporations to guarantee the biggest profit for the corn industry, and it has steadily been snuck into our foods over the past decade or two. Although ketchup is naturally sweet, as tomatoes themselves have natural sugar in them, high fructose corn syrup is added to get the traditional sweet ketchup taste at a cheaper cost for the manufacturers. If anything contains this ingredient, it is always better to choose a different option.
- Natural Flavoring: Natural does not always mean healthy. This seemingly innocent ingredient that you can find on many ingredient lists, not just ketchup, is an easy way to add an ingredient that may be unhealthy for you. In ketchup, this can mean monosodium glutamate(MSG). MSG is an additive that has potential to cause obesity, metabolic disorders, and negative reproductive health problems1. Similarly as above, it is best to stay away from products that contain “natural flavoring,” as this can disguise many ingredients that are not necessarily healthy for you.
- Non-organic tomatoes: this may seem obvious when you purchase anything that is not USDA organic, but what many people do not realize is that tomatoes are a fruit that pesticides are used most heavily on in comparison to other fruits and vegetables. It is always best to purchase tomato products as organic, as the concentration of pesticides on non-organic tomatoes is very unhealthy for you.
Why Organic Ketchup?
Purchasing organic ketchup is the best way to stay away from that high fructose corn syrup and MSG. The more popular brands of ketchup will have regular cane sugar, but may still contain the “natural flavor” in the ingredient list. Because of this, it is best to find organic brands that are from a smaller business or with clear ingredient lists. Most organic ketchups contain that all-natural cane sugar, and some may contain natural sweeteners like honey or agave instead.
Organic ketchup usually has a better flavor than non-organic, and the real sweeteners and healthy ingredients are usually enough to sway someone into buying the organic option. However, it has also been shown that the tomatoes used in organic ketchup are also healthier than those used in non-organic ones. The tomatoes sprayed with pesticides have been shown to have little antioxidants that are supposed to naturally occur in tomatoes. Organic ketchups contain these antioxidants at much higher amounts. One of these antioxidants is called lycopene. This antioxidant increases after the tomatoes are cooked, and can reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. Organic ketchup is definitely the better pick where health and taste are concerned.
Give Organic Ketchup a Try
Ketchup has been around for a very long time, with many civilizations desiring to make their own delicious flavor and spice to quickly add to foods without worrying that it will go bad. As ketchup evolved to be tomato-based, and as its popularity has grown, many manufacturers have cut corners to include ingredients that are cheaper for them, so that they can make a bigger profit for less work. Because of this, the conventional ketchups have become less healthy. Organic ketchup is the quickest way to ensure that what you are consuming is healthy and tastes better, while also supporting the manufacturer’s decision to be primarily organic. A farm becoming organic is no easy feat. Any support given to that is support going in the right direction for your health and wellbeing. So next time you go to the store, give yourself peace of mind and buy the organic ketchup – you won’t regret it.