Ketchup: What To Buy & Avoid

Summer is in full swing, which means it’s barbecue time. From Fourth of July to Labor Day, the air is filled with the intoxicating smell of burgers and hot dogs sizzling on the grill. Most people slather condiments onto their burgers and dogs, and that’s where it gets dangerous, my friends. 

Ketchup is one of the very worst offenders. Most ketchups sneak in so much added sugar and other nasty ingredients that we just don't need in our body.

So before you get your grill on, I want to tell you what’s in your ketchup, which ones to avoid, and which ones to use instead.

What to Avoid:

I’m sure you probably already know that Heinz might not be the best ketchup option, and you’re right. Let’s look at the label:

Basic Heinz ketchup contains four grams of added sugar per tablespoon. For reference, four grams is one teaspoon. I don't know anyone who only uses one tablespoon of ketchup. So, if you're gonna put maybe three tablespoons on your hot dog or hamburger, we're talking about a whopping three teaspoons of added sugar. 

Also, it's not cane sugar; it's high fructose corn syrup, regular corn syrup and “natural” flavoring(the dreaded “natural” flavoring that's in everything in the grocery store).

There's nothing natural about “natural” flavors. The only rule is they have to start with something natural – like a tomato, a mustard seed, or a peach. Then they can add up to one hundred chemicals to it, alter it in a lab with a scientist, and still call it “natural.” Many of these “natural” flavors are made with some really nasty ingredients (things you’d never eat on purpose). They get away with it because “natural flavor” is not a government-regulated term. 

They isolate the most bold, flavorful properties in the “natural” flavoring to hijack your taste buds and stimulate your brain. The more they do that, the more you buy, the more money they make. “Natural” flavorings are completely unnatural, so stay away from them.

You might say, “Okay Bobby, what about Heinz – No Sugar Added? That's probably a good option, right?” It would be, if they weren't using the cruddiest sweetener ever in the form of sucralose. 

Sucralose is another word for Splenda, a chemically man-made sugar that is really awful for you, because it kills a lot of your good gut bacteria and wrecks your intestines. Once again, they add in “natural” flavors, iso this is not any better.

Then you might say, “Okay Bobby, but what about Heinz–Sweetened with Honey?” If we look at the ingredients, there's no cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup. That seems like an improvement, right? 

The problem is that a lot of honey that gets imported for food use in the US is from China, and China cheats. They cut their honey with rice syrup and then they send it over here for use in food products like this. It's a giant scam. Plus, this product still has “natural” flavoring in it, so this one is no good either.

“Most ketchups sneak in so much added sugar and other nasty ingredients that we just don't need in our body.”

What to Buy Instead:

A best-in-class option is Primal Kitchen Organic & Unsweetened Ketchup. This ketchup is Whole30, Keto and Paleo compatible. When we look at the ingredients, everything’s super clean: no added sugar, no sweeteners, no artificial flavorings, and no “natural” flavorings. It’s simply organic tomato concentrate, onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, salt, and spices.

If you want the lowest sugar you can get in a store-bought ketchup, I found it at Trader Joe's. Their Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup only has two grams of sugar per tablespoon. That's half the amount that Heinz has, and it's organic.

 When shopping for ketchup,the most important things to remember are to read the ingredients, stick to low sugar (preferably no sugar at all), and avoid “natural” flavors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and additives.