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Decoding Tomato Ketchup Labels: Dos and Don'ts for Optimal Health

Food, Medicines, and Lies The Health Talk series by Dr. Prritii

by dr. priti nanda sibal

As a Functional Medicine Doctor, I'm committed to helping individuals make informed choices about their diet to support optimal health. In this evidence-based blog, we'll explore the often-overlooked world of tomato ketchup labels and provide actionable tips for selecting the healthiest options.

Understanding Tomato Ketchup Labels

Tomato ketchup is a pantry staple enjoyed by many, but not all products are created equal. Understanding how to decipher tomato ketchup labels empowers consumers to make healthier choices. Here are some key dos and don'ts to keep in mind:


Check the Ingredients List: Look for tomato ketchups with minimal, whole food ingredients. Ideally, the first ingredient should be tomatoes, followed by simple, recognizable ingredients like vinegar, spices, and sweeteners.

Choose Low-Sugar Varieties: Be mindful of added sugars in tomato ketchup. Opt for products with minimal added sugars or those sweetened with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Aim for less than 4 grams of added sugars per serving.

Seek Out Organic Options: Organic tomato ketchups are made from tomatoes grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Choosing organic helps minimize exposure to harmful chemicals and supports sustainable farming practices.


Avoid High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Steer clear of tomato ketchups containing HFCS, a highly processed sweetener linked to adverse health effects, including insulin resistance, obesity, and fatty liver disease. HFCS is often found in conventional brands and should be avoided.

Watch Out for Artificial Additives: Be cautious of artificial additives and preservatives commonly found in processed foods. Ingredients like artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives have been linked to various health concerns and should be avoided whenever possible.

Limit Sodium Content: Keep an eye on the sodium content of tomato ketchup. Excessive sodium intake is associated with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Choose low-sodium or reduced-sodium options, and aim for less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving.


Actionable Tips:

Homemade Options: Consider making your own tomato ketchup at home using fresh tomatoes, vinegar, spices, and natural sweeteners. Homemade ketchup allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavor to your preference.

Read Labels Carefully: Take the time to read and compare tomato ketchup labels before making a purchase. Pay attention to serving sizes, ingredients, and nutritional information to make the best choice for your health.

Moderation is Key: While tomato ketchup can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, it's essential to consume it in moderation. Use it as a condiment rather than a main component of your meals to avoid excessive sugar and sodium intake.


By understanding how to navigate tomato ketchup labels and make informed choices, you can support your health and well-being while still enjoying this popular condiment. By following these dos and don'ts, you can select tomato ketchup options that align with your health goals and contribute to a healthier diet overall. Here's to making smarter choices at the grocery store and nurturing your body with wholesome, nourishing foods. Here's a simple recipe for homemade tomato ketchup that's perfect for Indian tastes:


  • 1 kg ripe tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup jaggery (or brown sugar)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red chili powder (adjust to taste)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

  • Add minced garlic and grated ginger to the saucepan, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

  • Add chopped tomatoes to the saucepan along with apple cider vinegar, jaggery (or brown sugar), salt, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seeds, and red chili powder.

  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the saucepan and let it simmer gently for about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are completely soft and the mixture has thickened.

  • Once the mixture has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

  • Use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender, and blend until smooth.

  • If you prefer a smoother consistency, strain the ketchup through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds or lumps.

  • Transfer the strained ketchup to sterilized glass bottles or jars, and let it cool completely before refrigerating.

  • Your homemade Indian-style tomato ketchup is ready to enjoy! Use it as a condiment for samosas, pakoras, sandwiches, or any other dish of your choice.

  • Store the homemade tomato ketchup in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy the fresh, tangy flavor of homemade ketchup without any artificial additives or preservatives!

Do try and share the pictures and videos while making it. Sharing is caring!


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