Dousing certain foods in sauces, condiments, or marinades lifts the food flavor. No matter what the dish is, it helps enhance the texture and taste of the food. The first thing that pops into our mind with the name ketchup is tomato ketchup.
Despite such an enriching flavor, it has no nutritional value. Many people slather ketchup on everything, be it noodles, pizza, burgers, or any other fast-food snack. Well, it’s time to open your eyes before it is too late.
Nutritional Composition of Ketchup
According to USDA Food and Nutrient Database, 272 g serving of ketchup contains:
- Total calories: 275
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Carbohydrate: 75 g
- Dietary fiber: 0.8 g
- Sugar: 58 g
- Complex carbohydrates: 16.2 g
- Protein: 2.8 g
- Vitamin C: 11.2 mg
- Iron: 0.95 mg
- Potassium: 764 mg
- Calcium: 40.80 mg
- Saturated fatty acids: 0.038 g
- Vitamin E: 3.97 mg
Is Ketchup Acidic?
According to a study titled ‘’Physio-chemical and quality evaluation of tomato ketchup during storage,” published in the South Asian Journal Of Food Technology and Environment, commercial ketchup is highly acidic due to the presence of chemical preservatives.
The chief ingredients used for making tomato ketchup are tomato, vinegar, salt, sugar, and preservatives. The presence of tomato leads the ketchup to the acidic side of the pH scale. The pH value of ketchup is 3.9. It is due to the presence of tomatoes (with a pH value of 3.7-4.7). Although tomatoes aren’t as acidic as ketchup, the presence of other ingredients, like vinegar (with a pH value of 2.4-3.4, depending on the dilution level), lowers the pH value of the ketchup.
The ketchup made at home involves fresh ingredients that last for a week or ten days. Hence, its pH value is higher than those available in the market.
Is Ketchup Good for You?
As per the above nutritional composition, the nutritional value of ketchup is almost negligible. It has hardly any fiber with very limited or no vitamins and minerals. High sugar and sodium content increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes. Sugar content also lowers digestion, which may cause stomach acid reflux back through the esophagus.
A tablespoon of ketchup contains approx 154 mg of sodium. Such a high amount of sodium in a tbsp of ketchup may lead to irregular heart rhythm, high blood pressure, and a greater risk of heart stroke. People often consume more than the recommended ketchup with fries, pizzas, noodles, and Chinese delicacies. It may lead to a quick rise in the sodium level in the body.
Ketchup manufacturing companies use distilled vinegar as an essential ingredient for making ketchup. It does not have any nutrients and uses GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) corn combined with the chemicals. It is a vital ingredient as it helps preserve the ketchup for a long duration.
Moreover, these chemicals cause indigestion and inflammation that may worsen the acid reflux symptoms and GERD. Hence, it is not healthy to consume ketchup in high quantities.
The tomatoes are cooked, strained, and the remaining seeds are removed to make tomato ketchup. Several hours and high temperatures contribute to this process. Eventually, it strips off all the vital nutrients from the ketchup. Hence, while eating ketchup, one may not obtain similar benefits as consuming raw tomato or tomato juice.
However, many brands use healthier ingredients as well for making ketchup. Hence, one should check the ingredients used in the ketchup bottles and choose organic ones over chemical-oriented preservatives. Organic ketchup has a shorter shelf life but is healthier.
Does Ketchup Cause Acid Reflux?
Ketchup is more acidic than tomato paste or raw tomatoes. Consequently, it may elevate the acid reflux symptoms. Being loaded with chemical preservatives, vinegar, and sugar, makes it acidic and unhealthy.
The high pH value and sugar content of ketchup increases the risk of weight gain and diabetes and slows down the digestion process. Improper digestion further worsens the GERD symptoms.
It relaxes the esophageal sphincter, allowing the acid in the stomach to travel back to the food pipe. It is the prime cause of acidity and related symptoms such as headache, chest pain, burning sensation, heartburn, etc.
How Can You Make Ketchup Less Acidic?
Ketchup is the favorite dip for major snacks in the present world. Hence, it is almost impossible to neglect or avoid such a favorite condiment. However, there are other alternatives that can help make ketchup less acidic. Although there isn’t any magic wand to make the ketchup less acidic, one can consider other recipes involving the use of fresh ingredients.
The healthy recipes do not involve vinegar or sugar in higher quantities. Moreover, stripping the crucial nutrients makes homemade ketchup much healthier. One can even replace tomatoes with carrots or beetroot and different ingredients to match the flavor of real ketchup. These are the low-acid ketchup alternatives that one can try.
Does Ketchup Make Your Overall Dish Acidic?
Ketchup is a one-stop solution to transform bland food into a flavorful one. It lifts the taste and adds the color and texture of the sauces, pasta, and meat dishes. Generally, these dishes require almost a tablespoon of ketchup, which isn’t enough to make your overall dish highly acidic.
Although it makes the dish a bit more acidic than it would have been without the ketchup, a small amount does not lead to severe GERD or acid reflux symptoms. Moreover, when one cooks ketchup, it gets diluted, reducing its acidic level. One may not experience any discomfort after eating the dish until you add more acidic ingredients to the dish.
However, every person reacts differently to acidic foods. Hence, one should monitor one’s body and how it functions after consuming a particular food. If consuming ketchup discomforts you, it is good to limit or end its use irrespective of your love for it.
Ketchup isn’t a healthy condiment, although it remains popular. It is quite acidic and has negligible nutritional value. One must know that adding a teaspoon of ketchup to your fries would not harm your body. It would not impact your health until you consume a lot of it.
7 shocking side-effects of eating too much ketchup. Hindustan Times. (2021, September 7). Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/health/cant-do-without-ketchup-wait-till-you-find-out-about-these-7-shocking-diseases-101631000321024.html