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Ketchup vs. Mustard: Which Is the Healthier Choice?

Find out if ketchup or mustard is better for your health. Discover the healthier choice between the two popular condiments.

Ketchup and mustard, popular condiments for burgers, hot dogs, and fries, are enjoyed by many. But which of these two is healthier?

Avery Zenker, a registered dietitian from Everflex Fitness in Canada, highlights the widespread popularity of ketchup and mustard, “Ketchup and mustard are two of the most popular condiments worldwide, and can be added to a variety of different types of meals and dishes.”

While it’s important to recognize that ketchup and mustard can have different nutritional compositions based on their ingredients and quantities, it’s also beneficial to grasp some general information about these condiments.

Ketchup – Nutritional Profile

Photo by Dennis Klein on Unsplash

Registered dietitian Tina Marinaccio, owner of Health Dynamics LLC in New Jersey, characterizes traditional ketchup as comprised of tomato, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, and spices.

“Classic ketchup has tomato, vinegar, various forms of corn syrup, salt and spices. Some brands kick it up a notch with seasonings like Sriracha, jalapeños and cayenne,” said Tina Marinaccio.

According to Jennifer House, a registered dietitian with First Step Nutrition, a tablespoon of ketchup contains 19 calories, around four grams of sugar, and 150 milligrams of sodium.

In Canada, Jennifer House dispels the notion that ketchup is solely composed of sugar, noting that sugar is the third most prominent ingredient. Although ketchup contains more sugar and salt than other condiments, it does offer some nutritional advantages.

“It’s one of the best sources of lycopene, an antioxidant known to protect against prostate cancer,” she states.

Nevertheless, several dietitians adopt a more critical stance, highlighting that numerous ketchup brands are packed with excessive added sugars and sodium.

“The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams for men,” Zenker emphasizes. “With a tablespoon of ketchup containing about four grams of sugar, it can quickly add up, especially if used generously.”

Zenker advises selecting ketchup brands that are free from added sugars or high fructose corn syrup and suggests opting for those with reduced sodium levels if that aligns with your dietary preferences.

“If reducing sodium intake is a goal for you, there are ketchup brands with a lower amount of sodium to choose. Little bits of ketchup here and there as a condiment are not going to wreck your health goals. However, if you are using your fries as a vehicle to scoop up as much ketchup as you can, the sugar can really add up,” she said.

She advises selecting ketchup that contains natural sweeteners, such as real sugar, and avoiding artificial sweeteners like sucralose, which could contribute to insulin resistance, potentially resulting in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Mustard – Nutritional Profile

Ketchup vs. Mustard
Photo by Addilyn Ragsdill @clockworklemon.com on Unsplash

Tina Marinaccio explains: “Classic mustard contains mustard seed, vinegar, salt, and spices, but usually no sugar, unless it’s a sweet variety like honey mustard.”

Much like ketchup, the nutritional content of mustard varies depending on the brand. A typical teaspoon of mustard contains around 3-5 calories and roughly 110mg of sodium, according to Zenker.

“Most mustard nutrition labels display one serving as zero calories, because foods that contain less than five calories per serving are allowed to round down to zero,” she said. “So, if you’re having numerous portions of mustard, it won’t be zero calories, but it’s also not common to eat quantities of mustard to the extent that the total calories are significant.”

Even though mustard doesn’t provide significant nutrients, it generally lacks sugar, trans fats, and cholesterol. Zenker recommends opting for mustard with natural coloring agents such as turmeric instead of artificial dyes.

Jennifer House further explains that the presence of curcumin in turmeric, a key ingredient in mustard, gives it a yellow hue and boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

“Curcumin is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Mustard seeds can also have health benefits and contain omega-3 fats. However, the fat content in a teaspoon of mustard is zero grams, so the amount is minimal,” she notes.

Many experts consider mustard to be a healthier condiment due to its lower sodium content. For those who need to reduce their sodium intake, opting for a lower sodium version is recommended. Additionally, individuals should moderate their consumption of sweetened mustard varieties to manage sugar intake.

So, which of them is healthier?

Ketchup vs. Mustard
Photo by Desi Min on Unsplash

Generally speaking, mustard tends to be the preferable option over ketchup in terms of nutrition.

“Mustard is healthier than ketchup. It’s lower in calories and does not have high fructose corn syrup like most ketchup brands. The salty pucker-up tang of mustard prevents you from eating too much to exceed recommended amounts of sodium,” said Marinaccio.

Tina added: “If you are watching your sugar intake, moderate your portions of honey mustard or otherwise sweetened mustard varieties as well. For someone suffering from chronic illness and who is needing extra nutrition or calories, or a child who refuses new food without their favorite ketchup dip, then ketchup would be my pick.”

As Zenker suggests, both condiments can be part of a balanced diet if consumed in moderation and with attention to their sugar and sodium levels.

“Individual health goals will help determine which choice is ideal for a person. An individual trying to reduce sugar intake may want to opt for mustard, while someone who enjoys ketchup in moderation may opt for it more often,” she said.

Which one do you prefer? Ketchup or mustard? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Dadadel

Adelaida, the founder of Dadadel Creative, boasts a multifaceted background, blending expertise in software engineering, copywriting, and digital marketing. Prior to establishing her agency, she honed her skills as the former Head of the News Department at a regional media outlet, and also amassing 18 years of experience as a host. She has a penchant for sarcasm, a passion for lifestyle topics, and an undeniable love for cats.

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