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Ketchup versus Mustard - Which is healthier?

Updated on July 20, 2013

Antioxidants in Ketchup and Mustard

First off, despite some people spelling it "catsup", I'm going to spell it "ketchup" because that is how Heinz (famous for its ketchup) spells it.

So which is healthier? Ketchup or mustard.

Upon first cursory thought, one would think ketchup is healthier. Afterall, there is so much media attention on the fact that it contain lycopene, which is the antioxidant in tomatoes that helps fight oxidation damage by mopping up harmful free radicals.

However, less widely known is that mustard contain the health-promoting turmeric, which is the spice that give curry its yellow color. It too is an antioxidant.

Seem like the duel between ketchup and mustard ends in a draw on this one. They both have anti-oxidative properties.

What's in the labels of ketchup and mustard?

Next, we have to look at the ingredient labels. While it is true that some brands are better than others and have better and more healthful ingredients and less of the deleterious ingredients, we will have to do some generalization.

One notable ingredient that we do not want to see on our label would be high fructose corn syrup. It appears that ketchup is more likely of having this in its ingredient label than mustard. Although, now-a-days, as more people become aware of the harmful health effects of high fructose corn syrup, more and more manufacturers are pulling this ingredient out. But read your food labels anyways.

The reason we don't want high fructose corn syrup is that it contributes to our sugar load. And it is non-natural sugar made from most likely genetically modified corn. See my other article on why sugar is so bad.

What about sugar load?

Looking further at the food label, let's look at the sugar content. It appears that ketchup has more sugar that mustard. That makes sense. I've never known mustard to taste sweet -- at least the tradition kind, not the honey mustard sweetened kind.

So mustard comes out ahead in terms of lower sugar. On the French's Mustard website, it shows the ingredient comparison between mustard and ketchup.

Tomatoes are Nightshades

Ketchup are made from tomatoes. Tomatoes are classified as a nightshade vegetable. Nightshades contain alkaloids that some people may find inflammatory and irritating to the gut. While most people should not have any problems with the small amount of alkaloids in tomatoes and can tolerate nightshades just fine, people with autoimmune diseases may be more sensitive to nightshades. This is why the autoimmune protocol proposed by Sarah Ballantyne avoids nightshades.

Another strike against ketchup here.

Mustard are Antimicrobial

Mustard has the properties that it acts as an antimicrobial. That means that it helps fight off microbes.

HealthNews writes ...

Mustard seeds have antiseptic as well as anti-fungal properties. This makes them very useful for purging the digestive system and increasing the body's natural [defense] system.

Another plus for mustard here. Furthermore, writes of some healthful minerals found in mustard such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.


So tallying all the pluses and minus of both ketchup and mustard, we find that mustard mustard is slightly healthier than ketchup.

Dr. Ron Rosedale seem to think that mustard is healthier too. Because in his Nutritional Recommendations on his site, he says that most condiments and spices are good and he list several including mustard. But he writes "NO KETCHUP" in all caps.

So next time you order a hamburger, just say "hold the ketchup and extra mustard please".

But don't take this too seriously. This is just this one author's opinion as a fun exercise. You can continue to put ketchup and mustard on your hamburger if you like. But seriously, skip the bun. See why bread is not good for you.


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    • BlissfulWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      I also did a similar comparison between coffee and milk:

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 

      5 years ago from Philadelphia

      This is really a good comparative analysis of Ketchup and Mustard. I like the way you did this. Thanks for sharing.

    • BlissfulWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @rajan, thanks for stopping by.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting read. Mustard is by far the healthier especially if processed ketchup is bought.

      Good hub.

    • BlissfulWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thanks for voting up.

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i don't like mustard, nor my family. Mustard taste like stale yogurt to us. Our burgers are usually without mustard, only tomato and chilly ketchup. I like the ketchup with french fries too. Spicy and tasty. Thanks for stating the healthier choice. Voted useful

    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 

      5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Thank you for this information. I actually prefer mustard than ketchup especially on my burgers, plus mustard is a lot useful in salads. But as to which is healthier, I would've chose both...but now... I know it's mustard, thanks to you. My votes up and sharing. All the best always. :=)-Tonette

    • BlissfulWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thanks for everyone's comments. By the way, if you make french fries with sweet potatoes, it tastes great even without ketchup.

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 

      5 years ago

      Blissfulwriter: I am glad you said not to take this hub too seriously, because I do not want anyone telling me how to fix my burgers and hot dogs. I use both, ketchup and mustard as well as mayo and sometimes relish. It depends on my mood and how much shoots out of the squeeze bottle.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've never really thought about which was healthier between ketchup and mustard and found your hub interesting. The only thing I like to put ketchup on is french fries. I'd personally choose mustard over ketchup any day especially on burgers or sandwiches.


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