When we worry about the dangers of fast food, we think about greasy hamburgers, salty french fries, and fatty milkshakes. However, the condiments you put on some of these things is also contributing to health issues. Specifically, having a few too many tablespoons of ketchup could silently be adding a lot of harmful ingredients into your diet.
Ketchup Ingredients, And Why You Have to Avoid Heinz Ketchup
It’s important to be wary of Heinz Ketchup’s ingredients as it could cause heart disease and diabetes.
Ingredients in Ketchup as listed on the label are: [xi]
- Tomato Concentrate From Red Ripe Tomatoes
- Distilled Vinegar
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Corn Syrup
- Onion Powder
- Natural Flavoring
Although not all of those listed are harmful, the following should be avoided:
A problem with calling it “Tomato concentrate” is that it blurs our understanding of what’s in ketchup.
Unsurprisingly, the nutritional value of Heinz Ketchup does not mirror the content of the actual fruit — tomatoes. Tomatoes in their natural state are an excellent source of Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Copper, as well as Vitamin A, C, and K. 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, for example, offers 25% of your daily intake of Vitamin A, 32% of Vitamin C, and 15% of Vitamin K.[i, x] However, myfitnesspal.com says a bottle of Ketchup has only 8% of Vitamin A and C, without any indication that there are other nutrients.
This is worrisome. Heinz processes and eliminates the benefits of tomatoes until there is nothing left to put on the nutritional content label.
Therefore, calling it “Tomato Ketchup” is more of a marketing tool than an indication of what’s in the condiment. For example, a controversial study was done by Osem, a competitor of Heinz in Israel. They found that their ketchup contained only 21% tomatoes. As a result, it couldn’t be called “Ketchup” in Israel since Ketchup needs to be at least 41% of the red fruit.
While this study should be interpreted with caution because it was done by a competitor, it does create a cause for concern as more evidence indicates that Ketchup might have as much substance as the red goop appears to have.[ii]
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a harmful Ketchup ingredient, a huge calorie contributor and is linked to weight problems, type 2 diabetes, and a risk of heart disease.[iii] HFCS’ processing methods also make fructose easy for the liver to access, stimulating the production and storage of fat — this can create an environment in the body where type 2 diabetes can emerge. [iv]
Additionally, HFCS is a product of GMO corn. It’s a controversial crop that has obvious environmental and economic consequences as well as some potential health risks:
- GMO crops have only been around for a short period, so researching the long-term side effects is difficult.
- There might be repercussions for people with allergies. For example, in the 2000’s a woman found that she was reacting to corn in her tacos. Scientists discovered that she was allergic to a pest-repellent protein called Cry9C that isn’t usually in her corn. This corn was genetically modified, and the foreign protein potentially made her sick. [v].
- Food produces toxins at undetectable levels, but if we enhance the presence of a gene, it might increase the production of that toxin, harming us.
- An acid already in some foods called Phytate latches onto nutrients and makes them indigestible. And while phytate isn’t prevalent in m0st normally grown foods, altering a gene could lead to an overproduction of phytate and drastically reduce the nutritional content of your food. [vi]
- Herbicide resistant GMO’s make the use of these chemicals more prevalent, putting the consumer in danger by pumping more herbicides on crops without repercussions on their harvest.
GMO’s and Mercury Contamination
Also, a study looking at the mercury content of products, with high fructose corn syrup, found that 31% out of 55 samples had traces of it. One of these samples was Hunt’s Ketchup. Eating high doses of mercury could lead to lost vision, mobile impairment and neurological deficiencies in infants. For example, a child who is exposed to too much mercury in the womb could have impaired cognitive thinking, memory, attention, and visual-spatial skills.[vii]
Just a tablespoon of Ketchup, a small little squirt, has 7% of your daily recommended dose of sodium. A few more squirts and you’re giving your body some trouble.
When you consume too much sodium, the kidney’s have to produce water to counteract the increased soduim intake. The volume of blood in your body increases and puts pressure on your heart to move it around as normal – also known as increased blood pressure. Having too much salt in your diet leads to a hardworking heart, stiffening blood vessels, a heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.[viii]
The Best Way to Replace Ketchup
In response to public concerns, Heinz offers a new variation of their ketchup called “Simply Heinz“, which doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup or GMO ingredients, but still has limited availability. Nevertheless, the healthiest way to enjoy ketchup is to make it yourself (and it’s actually really easy!).
This Classic Tomato Salsa from Jamie Oliver, gets the nutrients and dietary fiber of real whole tomatoes, while also including garlic, onion, and a lot of flavors to replace your harmful Ketchup ingredients.
Furthermore, If you need the texture of Ketchup without the damage, try this HFCS free Healthier Homemade Ketchup. It is made with honey, the benefits of apple cider vinegar, real herbs, and vegetables that provide some fiber. This is an easy way to make your Ketchup without any adverse health effects.
This Ketchup also has almost half the sodium as the store-bought red goop.
Limiting your ketchup intake when you’re eating out is a great first step, and taking it one step further to make your own healthy ketchup at home helps limit the bad ingredients you’re eating on a regular basis. We get that keeping up with every bad or questionable food in our grocery stores and home is impossible. However, paying attention and starting to read labels more closely is the best way to educate and empower yourself to make healthier choices – starting with Ketchup!
[i] Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average [Includes USDA commodity food A238, A233] Nutrition Facts & Calories. Nutritiondataselfcom. Available at: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2682/2. Accessed March 20, 2017.
[ii] Horton H. Heinz tomato sauce no longer qualifies as ketchup in Israel. Telegraphcouk. 2015. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/11820023/Heinz-tomato-sauce-no-longer-qualifies-as-ketchup-in-Israel.html. Accessed March 20, 2017.
[iii] High-fructose corn syrup: Any health concerns? – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/high-fructose-corn-syrup/faq-20058201. Accessed March 20, 2017.
[iv] Hyman MD M. Why You Should Never Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup. The Huffington Post. 2014. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/high-fructose-corn-syrup_b_4256220.html. Accessed March 20, 2017.
[v] Xu C. Nothing to Sneeze at: the Allergenicity of GMOs – Science in the News. Science in the News. 2015. Available at: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/allergies-and-gmos/. Accessed March 21, 2017.
[vi] GMO: Harmful Effects. Enhsumnedu. 2003. Available at: http://enhs.umn.edu/current/5103/gm/harmful.html. Accessed March 20, 2017.
[viii] Health Risks and Disease Related to Salt and Sodium. The Nutrition Source. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/sodium-health-risks-and-disease/#ref3. Accessed March 20, 2017.
[ix] He F, MacGregor G. A comprehensive review on salt and health and current experience of worldwide salt reduction programmes. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2008;23(6):363-384. doi:10.1038/jhh.2008.144.
[x] Self Nutrition Data. Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year-round average. Available at: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2682/2. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[xi] Heinz Ketchup. Heinz Ketchup (20oz). Available at: http://www.heinzketchup.com/Products/PlantBottle%20Packaging%2020oz. Accessed March 22, 2017.