Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Ketchup Bad For You?

Also Known As: catsup



Short answer

If it weren't for the high fructose corn syrup and sugar content in ketchup, the condiment would score high as a health food, as it provides a host of benefits over a long period of time. However, the adverse impacts some of its ingredients may have cannot be overlooked.



Long answer

Ketchup is made from several ingredients, the primary ones being tomato concentrate, salt, and HFCS. Although studies have been conducted that show ketchup can have many long-term benefits, the negative impact of consuming enough ketchup to enjoy those benefits may not be worth it. First, let's look at the good news. 

Ketchup contains an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene has been noted to reduce the risk of heart disease in women by 50%. For men, lycopene can increase sperm count by up to 70%, increase swimming speed, and cut down the number of abnormal sperm cells - all of which leads to increased fertility. Ketchup has also been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 20% when consumed at least twice per week, according to a long-term study involving over 45,000 men. In addition to these benefits, ketchup contains a high amount of vitamin A, which is vital in maintaining good eye health. Other benefits of ketchup are that it can help reduce cholesterol, especially LDL, is low in calories, does not contain fat, and can be used to mask the flavor of various foods which may be better for the body than for the palette.

Although the benefits given above are wonderful, don't start using mounds of ketchup quite yet. First, as listed, high fructose corn syrup (HCFS) is one of the primary ingredients in ketchup. There is a host of negative issues associated with HCFS, one of which is tricking the body into not feeling full and thus inducing overeating. Other various studies have linked HFCS to metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Tomato concentrate does not contain all the nutrients in tomatoes as the process involved strips much of them away. About 1/4 of a bottle of ketchup is pure sugar, which can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood sugar. Two other ingredients to take note of are vinegar (a very acidic substance linked to tooth enamel decay and negative impact on potassium levels in the body) and GMOs, which although approved by the FDA are not approved in many other countries around the world, including most of Western and Central Europe. The jury is still out regarding whether or not GMOs have a negative impact on health, but if this is a concern for you, consider consuming ketchup in moderation (80% of all corn grown in the USA is GMO).

Possible short-term side effects

  • blood sugar spike

Possible long-term side effects

  • tooth decay
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • hyperglycemia
  • negative impact on potassium levels

Ingredients to be aware of


  • reduces risk of prostate cancer
  • increases fertility in men
  • promotes eye health
  • low in calories
  • fat free

Healthier alternatives

  • organic ketchup (free of hfcs)
  • fresh tomatoes

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Primal Kitchen Ketchup

  • USDA Organic Certified
  • Paleo & Keto Friendly
  • Whole30 Approved
  • No Added Sugar
  • Non-GMO
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 01-01-2016
Last updated: 11-30-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 01-01-2016
Last updated: 11-30-2023

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