Why Supermarket Ketchup Is Unhealthy

Industrial ketchup contains sugar, acetic acid, and dubious additives, it doesn’t have to be! We explain how you can easily prepare healthy ketchup yourself with simple ingredients.

Ketchup – Vegetables from the bottle

The tomato mix is on (almost) everyone’s lips. According to surveys, the national sauce from the USA is in the fridge of 97 percent of all Americans. In Germany, the sweet and spicy tomato dip has been enjoyed since the 1950s. In fact, two out of three German households have it in stock. With an annual consumption of 80,000 tons, Germany is the European leader in ketchup consumption.

In the 1980s, the American government even considered labeling ketchup as a “vegetable”. With the tomatoes in the bottle, the aim was to cover the children’s vegetable needs for school meals as cheaply as possible. The fact is, however, that conventional ketchup is a rather unhealthy industrial product and has very little to do with the sun-ripened tomato as a nutrient-rich natural product.

This is mainly due to the other ingredients. Not only tomatoes are camouflaged in the bright red mass, but also brandy vinegar, glucose syrup, sugar, salt, spices, or spice or herb extracts. Why are these ingredients unhealthy?

Unhealthy ingredients in conventional ketchup

This mixture is an acidic product. The usually added sugar plays a large part in this.

Sugar in ketchup is bad for your gut

This is refined sugar or glucose syrup (also known as corn syrup), which accounts for up to 25 g per 100 g. With regular consumption, our intestinal health can say goodbye sooner or later. It is even claimed that as little as 5g of refined sugar (equivalent to a teaspoon) is enough to ruin our gut flora. The further consequences can range from tiredness and lack of concentration to fungal infections and skin diseases to depression. For more information on the effects of sugar, see the link above.

Spirit vinegar is metabolized as an acid

The brandy vinegar used for ketchup is also metabolized in our body as an acid and also has an inflammatory effect. This vinegar is obtained from diluted brandy, which in turn is distilled from corn, sugar beet molasses, grain, or potatoes. Due to its neutral taste, spirit vinegar is usually flavored afterward.

Iodized table salt

The term salt usually refers to refined table salt, an industrial product that is isolated as sodium chloride by chemical cleaning and is often used by the food industry as a preservative. For the sake of the neutral taste, shelf life, and pourability, not only are minerals and trace elements such as magnesium and potassium removed from the salt but preservatives, fluorine, and artificial iodine are also added. The iodization of table salt in particular is suspected of causing thyroid disease.

Dodgy additives

There is also a big question mark behind the ingredients spices, spice extracts, and herbal extracts. Hard to understand for the customer, behind these general designations there are often chemical ingredients whose health effects can hardly be estimated. Even organic ketchup isn’t exempt from this ingredient swindle.

Reason enough to simply make your own ketchup from high-quality ingredients!

It all depends on the ingredients

Ketchup doesn’t have to be unhealthy. For your homemade ketchup, choose quality ingredients like apple cider vinegar, raw honey, crystal salt, and natural spices. This is how homemade ketchup becomes a taste experience without regrets!

Tomatoes, the basis for the ketchup

Tomatoes are of course the basis for every ketchup. The nutrient-packed fruit vegetable contains thirteen vitamins, seventeen minerals, and phytochemicals that protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as slow down skin aging.

According to studies, the antioxidant lycopene (especially against sunburn) in the form of cooked tomatoes or tomato paste is better absorbed by the body than in the form of raw tomatoes. The reason for this is the greater bioavailability of lycopene in cooked tomatoes.

Also, choose organic tomato paste made from free-range tomatoes. This not only increases the lycopene content but also scores points in terms of taste and contains no pesticides.

Make ketchup with apple cider vinegar

Unlike brandy vinegar, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is a real boon for the body. It helps with heartburn, joint pain, and joint stiffness, regulates bowel function, supports weight loss by breaking down fats, and gives a beautiful complexion. Apple cider vinegar of this quality can primarily be found in health food stores. Regular supermarkets, on the other hand, mostly carry pseudo apple vinegar, i.e. simple white vinegar that has been spiced up with artificial aromas, flavorings, and colorings. You can also make your own apple cider vinegar.

Raw honey as a healthy sweetener

While refined sugar and glucose or corn syrup are taxing on the body, raw honey is one of nature’s healthiest sweeteners. In addition to valuable vitamins and minerals, it is valued above all for its antioxidants. Raw honey has antibacterial properties and reduces inflammation.

Most commercially available honey has been heated (pasteurized), filtered, and has lost most of its vital substances during industrial processes. Therefore, always buy honey of organic quality directly from the beekeeper or in the organic trade. Incidentally, natural honey does not always have to crystallize, as is often believed. There is also liquid organic honey since the consistency of the honey depends on its fructose/glucose ratio. Acacia honey, for example, has a high fructose content and therefore remains liquid.

Allspice is a great seasoning for ketchup

Allspice gives your homemade ketchup the right flavor. But not only that, but the dried spice also curbs the appetite, stimulates digestion, stabilizes the blood sugar level, and has a pain-relieving and relaxing effect. In addition, allspice provides antioxidants and has antibacterial properties.

Ketchup and cloves go together

In addition to their intense taste, cloves give us various health benefits. Their antioxidants can neutralize free radicals in our organisms and thus prevent diseases. They also support the digestive system and naturally relieve heartburn, nausea, inflammation, and joint and toothache. Similar to allspice, cloves also have antibacterial properties and can therefore protect our bodies from unwelcome guests.

Sea ​​or crystal salt

Instead of the inferior table salt that is usually found in bottled ketchup, natural crystal or sea salt provides us with essential minerals and trace elements. Free from chemical additives, it contains the neutralizing natural power of oceans that are thousands of years old. High-quality salt (e.g. Fleur de Sel) gives our recipes the natural pep and can also be used for external healing applications.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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