High Blood Pressure? Cut The Ketchup

Photo by Ingorrr via Flickr

Along with mayonnaise and mustard, ketchup (also known as tomato sauce, red sauce or Tommy sauce) is a popular condiment, especially in the United States. Most people adorn their hamburgers, fries, sandwiches, or grilled/fried meats with ketchup.  This condiment is also used as a base for other sauces.  You can find it in most restaurants and in almost every household in the United States.

That’s a good thing, isn’t it?  Ketchup consists mainly of tomatoes and tomatoes are good for us.  So, it must be healthy, right?  Actually, it is not as healthy as you may think.

Why isn’t ketchup so healthy?
Although ketchup’s main ingredient is tomato puree, it does have other ingredients.  It is those other ingredients that hurt ketchup’s health factor.  Sugar, vinegar and salt are some of the other main ingredients found in ketchup. The biggest problem with ketchup is that it is high in sodium.  One tablespoon can contain up to 190 milligrams of sodium and it’s rare that someone only uses one tablespoon.  Combined with the many other places that sodium appears in your diet, that can be a problem.  So, if you have high blood pressure or want to limit your intake of sodium for other reasons, ketchup might not be the right condiment for you.

What can I substitute for ketchup?
The good news is that there are other condiments that can take the place of ketchup if sodium is an issue for you.  Instead try:

  1. Ketchup with no salt added: There are brands, such as Hunt’s, that have a no salt added version of their ketchup.  You can still enjoy the thick, tomato goodness of ketchup without the added salt.
  2. Tomato paste or puree: These will give you that tomato taste with less sodium and also without the added sugar.
  3. Homemade or no salt added spaghetti sauce: This is another way to get that tomato taste without all that sodium.

However, don’t substitute steak, Worcestershire, barbecue or cocktail sauces.  They have even more sodium than ketchup does.  So, if you are trying to limit your intake of sodium, watch what you are putting on your food.  Ketchup may not be the ideal condiment for you!

Comments (8)

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  1. We usually buy organic because ketcup also contains High Fructose Corn Syrup…which we avoid like the plague here. Less sodium and sugar in organic versions.

  2. Ruth says:

    The only ketchup in my house right now is a few packets left over from some take-out!! You list some good options to ketchup, but you left out making your own. When you make your own, use organic tomato paste — and instead of sugar try a natural zero-calorie herb that is so sweet-stevia; instead of vinegar, use natural fresh lemon juice; and if you are going to put some salt in, use natural sea salt in moderation. If I ever get around to making it, which I rarely do (I do without usually and season with herbs), I sometimes add finely chopped onions and garlic for a really unique flavor. Homemade, it actually comes out better than the store-bought, but of course there is the inconvenience of having to make it – including the stirring – but in the long run, it is worth it, if you must have it!!

  3. Tomatoes are linked to Fibromyalgia symptoms. I once was told the problem is in the small seeds, but I can’t verify that at a personal level. Generally a food like tomatoes with good antioxidants and lycopene is seen as real plus. However, ketchup with added sugar could be a problem because sugar is known to increase body inflammation. Salt isn’t usually a problem for many Chronic Fatigue Syndrome folks because many of them have low blood volume and low blood pressure. A little added salt can help them feel better. The general rule is eat wisely for you & notice how you feel after you eat “possibly” offending foods. We’re all different! Thanks for your good info on the blog.
    Cinda Crawford, host of the Health Matters Show blog and podcast, http://www.healthmattersshow.com

  4. Leslie – same here. We also avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup like the plague…

    We finally found an organic ketchup that also uses agave nectar instead of sugar which is a big bonus in my book.

  5. Mark says:

    That HFCS isn’t very good is it?

  6. Talli van Sunder says:

    No HFCS is not great. It is better to go with a ketchup that has sugar instead, which is usually the organic version.

  7. Maria Isabel says:

    I don’t like soft drinks so I don’t have a problem with it. I use organic tomato sauce when I cook. So, I am doing OK. Thanks

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