Spotted in the wild – Hunt’s “100% Natural” Tomato Ketchup. The Con-Agra owned brand boast No preservatives, and No high fructose corn syrup on the front of pack. This is the copy on the back:
“From the tomato experts: Hunt’s ketchup contains absolutely no high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients or preservatives, letting the natural flavor of the tomato shine through.”
Does all this make Hunt’s Ketchup a healthy product?
A serving of ketchup is 1 tablespoon and it has 20 calories, all from carbs. 16 of those calories are from sugars, the equivalent of 1 teaspoon. Now, this may seem like a trivial amount of sugar, but who stops at just one tbsp of ketchup? Finishing off a burger with fries requires at least 3 to 4 servings of ketchup.
On to the ingredient list:
tomato concentrate made from vine ripened tomatoes, sugar, distilled vinegar, salt, less than 2% of onion powder, garlic powder, natural flavors.
Comparing this ingredient list to that of market leader Heinz, the only difference is the use of sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. On the other hand, Heinz is slightly lower in calories and sodium compared to Hunt’s.
Both brands employ a high amount of salt -which is natural – but not healthy, at 190 mg per serving (8% of the recommended daily max in such a tiny serving).
Both brands use “natural flavors” as a means to make the ketchup tasty. In fact, that’s what gives the ketchup its ketchup flavor. Companies add flavorings to make products taste better. They are created in a lab and the formulations are guarded as trade secrets.
Flavorings can compensate for flavor loss during processing, substitute for ingredients, lower production costs and increase shelf stability. Natural flavorings are more expensive to source than artificial flavors, but brands use them so they can make bold claims on their product package.
People sensitive to MSG, on plant-based diets and those with allergies should pay special attention to the phrase “natural flavorings” since glutamates, animal products or allergens may be hiding in “natural flavors.”
Bottom line: This ketchup is not a health food. “100% Natural” does not mean it is healthy, even if the manufacturer wants you to think so.
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