Classic ketchup can be a health hazard, especially when you're dining out. "I think of ketchup as a packet of salt and sugar, which we get more than enough of in the typical Western diet," says Jalali. "The packets at fast food restaurants are usually 9 grams [of ketchup], but most restaurants now will have large containers, so it's harder to keep track of your portion," says Jalali. "Nine grams of ketchup has 4 percent of the recommended daily intake of sodium on top of whatever you are adding the ketchup to (fries, burgers, hot dogs, are already very high in sodium)." And don't forget, ketchup's sweetness comes with a price: Each packet has 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. She adds regular ketchups are also high in processed ingredients like high fructose corn syrup.
The key is to watch your portions. "Condiments like ketchup that are sweet can also increase the amount of food we will eat," Jalali says. "Sometimes I ask my clients to do a small experiment on themselves: how many fries will you eat if you use ketchup or if you don't." You could also try organic or artisanal ketchup (Jalali recommends Sir Kensington Ketchup), which still contain sugar and sodium, but much less than your garden-variety brand.