Top 5 Facts about Ketchup
We can all agree that food would be so boring without ketchup. French fries, pasta, fast food… what other condiment would we eat these foods with? The world simply loves their tomatoes in liquid form and today we offer you some interesting facts about ketchup. And in case you didn’t know, you can eat ketchup all you want – it’s healthy and doesn’t have a lot
#1. Ketchup wasn’t always made from tomatoes
The ketchup we eat today has a tomato as a base, but the early versions didn’t have anything related to tomatoes. They were made from anchovies, shallots, oysters, lemons, or walnuts. Perhaps you find walnut ketchup hard to swallow or find shallots and oysters too fishy.
#2. Five Ketchup tastes
Most people are familiar with four basic food flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. A fifth—umami or savory—is also a recognized flavor. It’s a meaty taste and can be added to foods through flavorings such as monosodium glutamate and soy sauce. It was discovered by Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda and is found naturally in products such as ripe tomatoes, fish, and cured meat. The earliest versions of ketchup used only two basic flavors, combining the salty and the bitter. Today’s recipes use five of them, courtesy of H.J. Heinz, founder of the eponymous Heinz company. While some recipes already called for vinegar and sometimes sugar, Heinz increased the amounts used, adding a sour taste and extra sweetness. He also insisted on only using ripe tomatoes, thereby ensuring umami.
#3. It Was a Cooking Ingredient
Ketchup is now primarily a condiment, but it wasn’t always been that. It once was mainly an ingredient in foods like pies and in more complex sauces, and it was used to flavor fish, meat, and poultry while they were still being cooked. Housewives needing to make gravy with the necks, gizzards, feet, and livers of fowls could add a teaspoonful of mushroom ketchup for flavoring. The sauce became primarily a condiment in the 1900s, with the advent of hot dogs, french fries, and hamburgers. Modern spices and flavorings have gone well beyond the vision of pioneering giant H.J. Heinz.
#4. It Was a Cure
Ketchup was considered to be a medicine around 1835 and was sold as tomato pills. The idea came from Dr. John Cook Bennett, the president of the medical department at Willoughby University in Ohio. He thought that tomatoes could cure diarrhea, jaundice, and indigestion. Bennett took these ideas directly from Dr. William Smith, a physician who lived in Michigan, USA. Researchers debate whether the first version simply used the original hygiene pills, but later versions did contain tomatoes. Miles’s success sparked numerous imitators, leading to even wilder claims of cures for rheumatism, the flu, headaches, and more. Many of the ketchup pills were fraudulent. Not only did they use no tomatoes—they were actually laxatives. This caused the tomato pill market to collapse in 1840.
#5. Ketchup Against Cancer
Ketchup (even though is no longer used as a cure) does indeed possess health benefits. It’s good for the heart and helps reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. These benefits occur because ketchup is an excellent source of the chemical lycopene, which gives tomatoes its red color. Lycopene is an antioxidant, inhibiting inflammation and cell damage caused by free radicals. Uncooked tomato products such as juice are not as useful as ketchup because the body absorbs cooked tomato products better. Cooked products also have higher lycopene levels. For prostate cancer, research shows that lycopene reduces the growth of cancerous cells and also affects the way these cells communicate. It chokes the way blood flows to these cells by inhibiting the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors. Some studies indicate that lycopene also helps with liver, skin, breast, and lung cancer, but the results are inconclusive. Interestingly enough, the chemical appears naturally in the human lungs, skin, liver, blood, prostate, adrenal glands, and colon. It is the most dominant color component in those organs and is also thought to have a natural role in guarding against cancerous cells.Lycopene supplements, also called “essence of tomatoes” and “tomato pills,” are sold worldwide. Daily dosages of these “wonder pills” are claimed to save lives, increase life spans, cut cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, beat arthritis, help with diabetes, and keep the skin wrinkle-free. Bennett’s concept of tomato pills has come full circle.