It’s one of the most popular condiments in the pantry. But it turns out a humble squirt of tomato sauce could be giving you more sugar and salt that you thought. This is especially important to monitor in little kids, who are have lower sodium needs and tend to love sauce on everything!
Although it’s mostly tomatoes, tomato sauce contains a lot of sugar and salt. The nutritional value of condiments, like tomato sauce, is often ignored because so little is used on our food. However, having witnessed first hand just how much sauce gets squeezed onto dinner plates around the country, I think it’s worth choosing the healthiest option for your family .
I’ve gathered a list of the most common supermarket brands and compared them for sugar, sodium (salt) and the percent of tomatoes. Keep in mind that naturally, pureed tomatoes contain around 3.8g sugar per 100g. Anything over this is likely to be added sugar in tomato sauce.
The worst tomato sauce
The worst offender was Coles Tomato Ketchup. A level tablespoon (20ml) is going to give you over a teaspoon of sugar (5.7g) and 210mg of sodium. That’s the daily adequate intake (minimum) of sodium for a 3 year old and a fifth of their daily upper level of intake (maximum)!
Use this table to see how your families sauce stacks up against the rest. You can toggle each column to rearrange the table by brand, % tomatoes, sugar, sodium and price.
|Brand||% Tomatoes||Sugar (g) per 100ml||Sodium (mg) per 100ml||Price ($) per bottle|
|Beerenberg Tomato Sauce||62||19.0||380||4.75|
|Celebrate Health Tomato Sauce||22||5.5||742||5.00|
|Coles Tomato Ketchup||74||28.5||1050||2.50|
|Coles Tomato Sauce||78||24.6||720||1.50|
|Fountain Tomato Sauce Reduced Sugar||84||5.4||575||2.00|
|Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup||78||24.9||1220||3.20|
|Heinz Tomato Ketchup||77||25.8||815||3.20|
|Heinz Tomato Ketchup 50% Less Added Sugar & Salt||79||12.1||395||3.20|
|Masterfoods Tomato Sauce||77||24.4||827||2.95|
|Masterfoods Tomato Sauce Hidden Veg||73*||16.2||600||3.15|
|Masterfoods Tomato Sauce Reduced Salt & Sugar||85||16.0||596||2.95|
|Rosella Tomato Sauce||76||22.7||1360||2.30|
|Toscano Sugo Cherry Tomato (pasta sauce)||82*||7.0||193||4.00|
|Woolworths Tomato Sauce||78||20.4||677||1.50|
Note: The Celebrate Health brand reported the content of tomato paste (concentrate) in their ingredients, however other brands reported the reconstituted amount. It is likely that % of tomatoes in Celebrate Health Tomato Sauce is around 70% comparable to the other brands.
The healthiest tomato sauce
You may have noticed that I threw in an alternative option there; Toscana Cherry Tomato Sugo. This one is my winner. It’s a pasta sauce, but it is delicious as a dipping sauce and is much lower in sugar and sodium that regular tomato sauce. The bottle should be used within 7 days, but the sauce can be frozen in ice-cube trays so you always have some on hand.
If you wanted a traditional tomato sauce that’s going to last longer in fridge, one of the best results was the Fountain Tomato Sauce Reduced Sugar. It wasn’t the least in sodium but it was a good compromise (575mg) for the low sugar content. However it does contain xylitol and stevia as sweeteners (which may taste a little odd).
If you were feeding littlies or needed low sodium options, and don’t mind a little extra sugar, my top picks are the Beerenberg and Heinz Tomato Ketchup 50% Less added sugar and salt.
How does your family’s usual sauce stack up? Is it time to make a switch?
You may also like to see my Top 5 Healthiest Kid’s Cereals where I compare the most popular 24 cereals marketed to children.
Sarah Moore is a mum, and university qualified Registered Nutritionist with a decade of experience working with families to improve their health and well-being. Sarah has a simplistic and practical approach to family nutrition and offers private consultations and group information sessions in Perth, Western Australia. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks.