10 Side Effects Of Eating Lot of Tomatoes

Many of us consume tomatoes regularly. These are added to many dishes for the unique flavor they impart. Lycopene in tomatoes has proven health benefits. But are you aware of the side effects of tomatoes?

These may not be suitable for everyone, and not all can consume them in regular amounts. In this article, you will understand the different ways tomatoes may impact your health negatively. Continue reading to know more.

10 Serious Side Effects Of Tomatoes

Tomatoes – A Brief
Scientifically called Solanum lycopersicum, the tomato belongs to the nightshade family of Solanaceae. Tomatoes originated in the Central and South Americas. In Mexico, they were first used in food, and eventually spread throughout the world.

Today, the tomato is consumed in a variety of ways – raw, cooked, and as an ingredient in numerous dishes, sauces, drinks, and salads.

But now comes the big question –

Why Can Tomatoes Be Bad For You?
Though they are usually safe for consumption, they can cause complications in some people. Some of the issues tomatoes can cause include acid reflux, effects of intolerance, muscle aches, etc.

Even the leaf of the tomato plant can be unsafe. In large amounts, it can cause vomiting, dizziness, headache, and, in severe cases, even death (1).

Another major factor contributing to this dark side of tomatoes is lycopene, the very compound that, quite surprisingly, is responsible for its benefits as well.

Lycopene In Tomatoes
Lycopene is safe in most cases. But lycopene supplements may not be safe during pregnancy. Lycopene can also aggravate the symptoms of prostate cancer.

Lycopene must be used cautiously in patients who have stomach ulcers and other stomach issues. The compound can also cause low blood pressure. Individuals on blood pressure lowering medication must stay away from lycopene.

Lycopene can also increase the risk of bleeding and must be avoided by people with bleeding disorders.

Other side effects of excess lycopene intake include lycopenenemia, a condition causing yellow-orange pigmentation of the skin (2).

And now, for the side effects, in detail.

Side Effects Of Tomatoes

1. Acid Reflux/Heartburn

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Tomatoes are acidic, and they might cause heartburn. Tomatoes are packed with malic and citric acids and can make the stomach produce excessive gastric acid (which is responsible for food breakdown) (3). When the volume of the acid increases, it is forced to flow up the esophagus, causing the symptoms. In fact, even cooking tomatoes may not be of much help.

Tomatoes and tomato sauce are also listed as a couple of foods that may trigger a reflux (4).

Tomatoes may also worsen the symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) (5). Hence, it is best to avoid acidic foods like tomatoes to avoid acid reflux symptoms.

2. Allergies And Infections
Symptoms of a tomato allergy most often occur immediately after the fruit is consumed. These include hives, skin rashes, eczema, coughing, sneezing, an itching sensation in the throat, and swelling of the face, mouth, and tongue.

According to a Polish study, tomatoes contain a compound called histamine that may cause certain allergic reactions (6).

Tomatoes can also cause allergic contact dermatitis – where your skin becomes severely itchy and swollen after touching the fruit. Tomatoes can also lead to itchy lips. Another possible allergic reaction to do with tomatoes is a red patch around the eyebrows and eyelids (7).

3. Kidney Problems
According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals with advanced chronic kidney disease must limit their intake of potassium, a mineral tomatoes are rich in (8).

People with severe kidney issues may also be required to limit their intake of tomatoes as they contain a lot of water.


High potassium levels in the blood, which is one of the causes of kidney disease, could be dealt with by avoiding tomatoes or tomato sauce or anything made of tomatoes. Tomato sauce is also high in oxalate, which is another reason susceptible individuals must steer clear of it (9).

4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Tomatoes, given their irritating skins and seeds, may be one reason for irritable bowel syndrome. And if you already have IBS, tomatoes can also trigger bloating.

Tomatoes are also one of the most common food allergens that may cause intestinal problems (10).

5. Diarrhea

Diarrhea can occur in individuals suffering from tomato intolerance.

Tomatoes are greasy and acidic and must be avoided during diarrhea. They could be a source of an organism called salmonella that causes diarrhea (11).

6. Excessive Sodium
Ensure you choose lower sodium versions of tomato sauce as most sauces have a high sodium content.

Even tomato soup can have too much of sodium. Just one cup of the soup can contain anywhere between 700 to 1,260 mg of sodium (12). Canned tomatoes can contain 220 mg of sodium for every half cup.

7. Lycopenodermia
We know tomatoes are excellent sources of lycopene. This can also be a bane. Excessive intake of lycopene can cause lycopenodermia, which is the deep-orange coloration of the skin. This may not be a health threat, but is surely not very attractive to look at (13).

Lycopenodermia can also occur with excessive consumption of lycopene supplements. But worry not – the condition is reversible (14).

8. Urinary Problems
Acidic foods like tomatoes may irritate the bladder and result in urinary incontinence. Tomatoes may also cause bladder symptoms, and in certain cases, cystitis (burning sensation in the bladder).

9. Respiratory Problems
People allergic to tomatoes may have difficulty in breathing.

We can also accuse tomatoes of being conducive to mold development – and molds, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, can cause allergies and respiratory problems (15).

10. Acute Gastrointestinal Upset
Since tomatoes are highly acidic, they may cause acute stomach upset if you are already suffering from acid reflux or heartburn.

Tomatoes can also make the stomach produce more acid, which may cause acute gastrointestinal upset (6).

These side effects simply tell us that we must be careful and not consume tomatoes in excess. But that’s not all – there is another set of people that, in this aspect, must practice caution more than anybody else.

Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
In regular amounts, tomatoes are found to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. However, there is insufficient evidence when it comes to large amounts. The best way to go about it would be to consult your doctor.

Talking about lycopene in this context, there is no evidence. Hence, refrain from taking lycopene supplements (2).

Tomato, especially the sauce, has a strong flavor and can make its way into the breast milk. This can make the baby uncomfortable and irritable.

In case you have more questions…

These side effects don’t mean you chuck tomatoes right away. They have numerous benefits. What we say is be wary of the side effects, and don’t consume them in excess.

Tomatoes are juicy fruits that contain antioxidants and several useful plant compounds. They offer many health benefits. However, excess intake of tomatoes may cause side effects like acid reflux or heartburn, allergies and infections, kidney problems, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, urinary issues, and respiratory problems. There is limited evidence on the safety of tomatoes for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Hence, limit their consumption to avoid their adverse effects.


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