If you are like most parents, by the time your children reach grade school, ketchup has become the go-to condiment for almost every meal. In severe cases, ketchup becomes the centerpiece of the meal, and the meat, rice, or pasta is the condiment.
What is it about ketchup that has made it such a popular kid food?
To answer this question, we turned to veritably the most popular brand of ketchup in America – Heinz. A quick peek at the nutrition facts panel reveals the culprit: Sugars.
A serving is listed as one tablespoon. That tiny amount is a pipe dream of course. Each “serving” has 20 calories. Now, if you look at the sugars count – it’s 4 grams. Each gram of sugar is 4 calories. Four times four is 16 calories from sugars. Sixteen calories out of twenty is 80 percent. 80% of ketchup calories come from sugars! For comparison, Frosted Flakes cereal is just 40% sugar.
In the case of Heinz Ketchup, two sweeteners are used, both from GMO corn. Here is the ingredient list.
tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring.
To be fair, there is some sugar in the tomato concentrate itself, so let’s say 40% of the calories are from added sugars. That’s still a lot!
What’s a parent to do?
First, realize ketchup is like candy added to a dish.
Second, keep a closer watch on the amount your child adds to her dish. Better yet, don’t automatically make ketchup available on the dinner table.
Next, try to get your child to enjoy the sauces and gravies that you prepared. In some cases, you can add a touch of sugar to make them more appealing. This is especially true for tomato sauces, where a tiny amount of sugar helps remove the acidic bite and rounds off the flavor.
Lastly, try to get mustard into rotation. We’ll write about mustard tomorrow.
What’s your family’s ketchup situation?