Ketchup Could Be Ruining Your Diet. Here's Why

There are plenty of condiment options available these days, but ketchup remains one of the most popular. According to Taste of Home, nearly 97% of Americans keep a bottle of the stuff on hand, and why wouldn't they? The bright red, tomato-based sauce makes a great addition to classic barbecue staples like hamburgers and hot dogs, not to mention that it also tastes great with fries, eggs, and macaroni and cheese. You can even turn it into ice cream if that's what your heart really desires.

Being a versatile addition to food is just the beginning of ketchup's greatness. Spoon University notes that the condiment is also low in both calories and fat, making it a much better option compared to something like mayonnaise or ranch dressing. The tomatoes at its base are rich in the antioxidant lycopene as well, which can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as certain types of cancer (via Spoon University). Bonus Yahtzee.

If we've got you searching your refrigerator for something to smother in ketchup, you may want to slow down for a second. Despite all of its benefits, it turns out that the tasty dipping sauce is also full of some not-so-great things as well.

Ketchup contains high levels of both sodium and sugar

It's no secret that ketchup has some salt in it — that's part of what makes it taste so great — but this can seriously ruin your diet as well. According to Prevention, a serving of two tablespoons of ketchup contains around 320 milligrams of sodium. This may not seem like a crazy number but with the American Heart Association suggesting 2,300 milligrams as the maximum amount of sodium that should be consumed in a day, those two tablespoons of ketchup end up containing 14% of your daily sodium. That same serving also packs eight grams of sugar, which Food Network points out is actually added sugar rather than the natural sugar found in tomatoes. And if you happen to squeeze out an extra tablespoon, HuffPost notes you've taken in more sugar than you'd get from a single Krispy Kreme donut.

Using ketchup sparingly here and there is perfectly fine, but if you're adding it on the side of your plate for every meal, things can quickly get out of hand. Luckily there are plenty of ways to combat the high sugar and sodium levels in ketchup, starting with picking out a bottle that only contains the five basic ingredients that go into the dip: tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pepper, and spices (via Food Network). Cocktail sauce, tomato jam, or even mild salsa could work as a suitable replacement for ketchup as well (via The Fashion Spot).