If you think that ketchup is healthy just because it’s made from tomatoes and doesn’t have too much fat, then you might want to double check that label on the back of your bottle of Heinz. Unfortunately, although ketchup has the potential to be really quite healthy, most commercial varieties are full of preservatives, artificial flavors, and sugar.
Luckily, if you do a little digging, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a healthier ketchup. In this guide we’ll go over the things to look for when figuring out just how good for you a ketchup is. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started on your search.
How to Choose a Healthy Ketchup – Buying Guide
There are a few key things to look for when picking through the junk and figuring out what makes a ketchup healthy and what you might want to get for yourself. Here are some factors to keep in mind.
Ingredients are Important–Look for Natural, Avoid Artificial
A great rule of thumb when looking for a healthy anything is to simply check if the ingredients list includes things that you might have in your own kitchen or would be able to buy at a grocery store. Look for ingredients like whole tomatoes, vinegar, and spices.
On the flip side, artificial and highly processed ingredients should be avoided as much as possible. Some common ingredients to avoid are high fructose corn syrup, natural flavoring, and even tomatoes from concentrate.
Watch Out for Sneaky Sugars
Just because it’s being sold as “healthy” or “organic” and has a clean ingredients list, it doesn’t mean that your ketchup is automatically good for you. Ketchup is a pretty sweet condiment, and even if it doesn’t have sugar specifically in the ingredient list, it probably still has a lot of sweeteners in other forms such as fruit juices or sugar substitutes like agave or honey.
While these are certainly better than high fructose corn syrup, it’s best to find a ketchup that doesn’t rely on added sweeteners and gets its sweetness from the tomatoes or other whole food ingredients.
Pay Attention to Shelf Life and Container Size
Because healthy ketchups don’t have any artificial preservatives, they’ll likely have a shorter shelf life than the conventional ketchups you’re used to. As a condiment, ketchup may sit in your fridge for a while, so if you don’t use it too often, make sure that the bottle you buy isn’t too big and avoid getting multi-packs.
On the other hand, if you’re a ketchup fiend (we’re not judging), feel free to go crazy.
Look for BPA-Free Packaging
Did you know that one of the main factors in plastic degradation is acid? Tomatoes are pretty highly acidic, so to ensure that you’re not getting any unwanted chemicals in your food (after all, you did just scour the ingredients list to avoid them), make sure the packaging is BPA-free. Of course, the safest option is glass as even BPA-free plastics break down.
Top 10 Best Healthy Ketchups to Buy Online
Now that you know what to look for, here’s a list of our 10 favorites to get you started.
10. AlternaSweets Spicy Ketchup
Low Carb Ketchup Sweetened with Stevia
This ketchup with a kick is for those who are watching their sugar or carb intake. Sweetened with stevia, this ketchup has only 1 net carb but still retains the sweet and sour tang of a normal ketchup.
However, it does contain sweeteners, so if you’re looking for a ketchup made only from whole foods, then this might not be the best option for you.
|Ingredients||Tomato paste, water, white distilled vinegar, non-GMO erythritol (natural sweetener), spices and herbs, stevia extract|
|Added Sweeteners||Erythritol, Stevia extract|
9. Steve’s PaleoGoods PaleoChef Ketchup
Paleo-Friendly Ketchup Full of Spices
For those following a paleo diet, this ketchup adheres to all of the rules–it’s gluten-free, has no refined sugars, and is free from anything artificial. Plus, it’s full of a ton of spices that most ketchups don’t have, adding to the taste factor.
However, as it’s all natural, this ketchup is best eaten within 30 days of opening (though it can last for a year at room temperature before you open it), so it’s best for those who use ketchup more often. On top of that, it’s a little expensive for its size.
|Ingredients||Tomato paste, water, orange blossom honey, apple cider vinegar, bananas, onions, golden seedless raisins, extra virgin olive oil, spices and herbs|
|Added Sweeteners||Orange blossom honey|
8. True Made Foods Vegetable No Added Sugar Ketchup
This ketchup features absolutely no added sweeteners and relies simply on tomatoes and apples for sweetness. On top of that, it’s packed with a bunch of other vegetables that are normally not found in ketchup.
However, it is noticeably less sweet than most ketchups and may be a bit too sour for some. So if you prefer your ketchup on the sweeter side, this is probably not the best option for you.
|Ingredients||Tomato puree (water, tomato paste), apple, vegetable puree (carrot, butternut squash, spinach), vinegar, salt, onion powder, allspice|
7. Wellbee’s Honey Ketchup
Super Rich, Super Sweet, and SCD-Approved
If you think all healthy ketchups are light and acidic, this one might prove you wrong. Sweet, rich, and with a deep flavor that most conventional ketchups don’t even have, it’s also Paleo and Specific Carbohydrate Diet approved.
However, some reviewers note that it has a spice profile closer to barbecue or steak sauce and may be too sweet if you’re looking to cut down on sugars.
|Ingredients||Tomato puree, honey, apple cider vinegar, spices and herbs|
6. Gaults Tomato Ketchup 100% Sweetened by Vegetables
A Very Typical Ketchup, Minus Sweeteners
Like it says, this ketchup is 100% sweetened by veggies and contains no sweeteners of any kind. Despite this, it still tastes like a very normal ketchup, if slightly less sweet.
However, for discerning consumers, you should note that the label lists “vegetable extract” as well as “herbs” and “spices” without specifically saying what’s in it. But the manufacturer is very responsive to questions, so it shouldn’t be hard to ask.
|Ingredients||Tomato paste, water, vegetable extract, white vinegar, salt, citric acid, herbs, spices|
5. True Made Foods Vegetable Ketchup
Not Too Sweet, Not Too Vegetable-y
For those looking for a nice, middle ground ketchup that isn’t completely devoid of sugar, this ketchup that contains half the sugar of normal ketchup might be a good place to start.
It has a light, bright flavor that differs slightly from normal ketchup. It’s also a little thinner, so keep that in mind if you’re someone who prefers it thick.
|Ingredients||Tomato puree (tomato paste, water), vegetable puree (butternut squash, carrots, spinach), cane sugar, distilled vinegar, salt, onion powder, allspice|
|Added Sweeteners||Cane sugar|
4. Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup
Ethical Ketchup For Serious Ketchup Lovers
If you’re someone who loves ketchup and loves to put it on everything, this ketchup, which tastes basically like any conventional ketchup but without any chemicals or preservatives, might be the choice for you.
On top of tasting great, it also has non-GMO, B-Corp, and humane certifications. And if you really like it, it comes in a six-pack to ensure you never run out.
|Ingredients||Tomatoes, tomato paste, organic cane sugar, onions, water, distilled vinegar, salt, lime juice concentrate, green bell peppers, allspice|
|Added Sweeteners||Organic cane sugar|
|Size||20 oz (2 pack)|
3. Veg’d Organics All-Natural, Hidden Veggies Ketchup
Veggie-Filled and Kid Approved
This ketchup is rich, thick, and packed to the brim with veggies. It was formulated specifically to help picky kids get some veggies in and contains just a fraction of the sugar of standard ketchup.
However, it is quite expensive at $16 for a 12-ounce bottle. But if you’re planning on eating a lot, the three-pack is a much more economical deal.
|Ingredients||Tomato paste, maple syrup, organic butternut squash, organic sweet potatoes, apple cider vinegar, carrot puree, water, salt, distilled vinegar, beets, spices|
|Added Sweeteners||Maple syrup|
2. Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
Long Lasting and Super Tomatoey
If you’re looking for a ketchup that’s just ketchup–no extra veggies or unnecessary spices–but without the sugar, look no further. This ketchup is unapologetically tomatoey and also Whole 30, Paleo, and Keto friendly.
This ketchup is also great for those who don’t use it too often. Each bottle is shelf-stable for 18 months and will remain fresh in the refrigerator for up to 8 months after opening.
|Ingredients||Organic tomato concentrate, organic balsamic, less than 2% of salt, organic onion powder, organic garlic powder, organic spices|
|Size||11.3 oz (2 pack)|
1. Portlandia Foods Organic Portland Ketchup
Organic with a Wholesome, Old Fashioned Flavor
Portland is arguably the unhealthy-food-made-healthy capital of the US, so you know organic ketchup from Portland is going to be good. Rather than trying to be anything else, this ketchup is just plain ol’ ketchup, but better.
Reviewers note that this ketchup tastes like a grandparent’s homemade version from their childhood and that even those who tend not to like ketchup are pleasantly surprised by this one.
|Ingredients||Water, organic tomato paste, organic white distilled vinegar, organic cane sugar, herbs and spices|
|Added Sweeteners||Organic cane sugar|
Spice Up Your Ketchup
If you’re used to buying flavored ketchups, you might find that they’re a little harder to find in a healthier version. But there are some super simple hacks you can do to upgrade any healthy ketchup.
For an elevated fry dipping experience, combine 4 tablespoons of curry powder with 1 cup of ketchup. For ketchup with a kick, add 4 teaspoons of sriracha to 1 cup of ketchup. For an extra flavorful burger or hot dog, try topping your grilled meat with a combination of 4 teaspoons of hoisin or teriyaki sauce and 1 cup of ketchup.
So there you have it–a quick, tasty guide to finding a healthy ketchup. Now go forth and feel free to drown your fries (or eggs, or pizza, or noodles…again, we’re not judging).
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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