Ketchup vs. Tomato Paste

Tomatoes, the main ingredient in both tomato paste and ketchup, are full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant and a pigment which gives tomatoes their red color. 

TOMATO TIME:  Ketchup is a staple condiment in the American diet; we put in on just about everything.  But how does it measure up nutritionally?  Ketchup has about 20 calories per tablespoon, 4 grams of sugar (equal to one teaspoon), and 160 milligrams of sodium.  Ketchup is notoriously high in sugar; about ¼ of a bottle of ketchup is sugar!  Other ingredients found in ketchup include:  vinegar (acetic acid), corn syrup (a form of sugar), and spices.  In addition, many folks end up using a lot more than the suggested serving size of 2 tablespoons!

Tomato paste, primarily used when making homemade soups or stews, only has one ingredient:  tomatoes.  Tomato paste is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and potassium.  Nutritionally it contains 15 calories, 16 milligrams of sodium, and only 2 grams of sugar (1/2 teaspoon).  

Who wins? Tomato paste by a landslide! 

TIP:  Because tomato paste is just made of tomatoes it will not have the same flavor as ketchup if it is used as a condiment. However, tomato paste could work as an alternative to ketchup in a recipe if needed.

Julia E. Salomón, MS, RDN, CD; Community Health Improvement Leader, Affinity Health System 
Taylor Gawlik, Dietetic Intern, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay