Although we normally tend to associate ketchup with American fast food and American gastronomy , ketchup has in fact eastern origins . The term ketchup originates from the Malaysian word kecap which is a sauce based on fermented salted fish (usually anchovy). The sauce was originally imported in Europe in the 1600 where it was adapted to suite the taste of Europeans with the addition of other ingredients such as nuts, mushrooms and oysters. The ketchup recipe as we know it today was developed at the end of the 1700 in America when tomato was added as an ingredient.

bottle of ketchupIn 1872 Henry J Heinz developed its recipe for his company Heinz which is still used today (Heinz).   The recipe was developed with the addition of vinegar, sugar, onion and spices, it became so popular that everybody began to associate ketchup with the Heinz sauce, and this is the perception that we still have today in the rest of the world.


Ketchup is based on tomato paste, vinegar sugar and spices. It has a medium-low caloric quantity, 100 kcal for 100g, and is low in fat.

 Ketchup became popular in Europe in the 80’s when the first American fast food began to open. Even though it was already known before then it was with the opening of fast foods that people began to appreciate it. Today all supermarkets display a wide range of ketchup sauces on their shelves all with slightly different ingredients to suite consumer taste: form the classic ketchup to ketchup for kebab, ketchup with balsamic vinegar, ketchup bio, ketchup with saccarine etc.

 Nutritional qualities:

 Although we normally tend to associate ketchup with unhealthy fast food it is also  true the argument becomes meaningless as very little of it is consumed (few doses and in most cases with fries).  Ketchup which has high sodium content is normally consumed with fries which stimulate thirst and therefore the intake of sweet beverages. Nutritionally it is low in fat but high in sugar and sodium. As with all tomato sauces it is abundant in Lycopene, a very important antioxidant.

When choosing  ketchup it is wise to look at the label and make sure that the ingredients  are natural; wine or apple vinegar  instead of alcohol based vinegars,  added sugar content instead of Glucose fructose is advisable. Sodium is not indicated in the label and so is the origin of the tomato. Sometimes you can find saccharine instead of sugar, this is probably marketing  motivated as ketchup does not make any effect in your diet (especially when eating fries).

Another tip is to check the source. Normally  no indication is made of where the tomato originates, this gives no clue to understand the quality of the tomato and its production methods. Some companies are beginning to invest in green and sustainable sourced tomato and market its label this gives the customer a better idea of how to make a decision when choosing their products.