Tomatoes have a place in hundreds of culinary applications including spaghetti sauce, pizzas and as sandwich toppings. Tomatoes contain naturally occurring sugars, as do all fruits. Major health organizations and diets warn against the evils of sugar, and in some cases, rightfully so, as added sugar has no nutrients and can pad your diet with extra calories that lead to weight gain. The sugar in tomatoes, however, comes along with a number of important nutrients.
Americans eat too much sugar. The American Heart Association reported in August 2009 that the average person consumes 22 1/2 tsp. daily and recommended that women limit added sugars to just 6 tsp. per day and men just 9 tsp. According to dietitian Joy Bauer, your body can tell a difference between naturally sweet foods and added sugars. Because foods with added sugars often have extra calories without a lot of nutrition, these calories may be stored as fat. This does not mean you should avoid all foods with sugar, however. Fruits, vegetables and milk provide essential nutrients along with their sugar.
Sugar in Tomatoes
One cup of sliced tomatoes contains just 5 g of sugar. Compare this to common fruits, such as grapes which offer 15 g of sugar per cup or 1 cup of apple slices with 13 g of sugar. When compared to vegetables, tomatoes are slightly higher in sugar than green choices -- one cup of zucchini, for example, contains 3 g of sugar and a cup of broccoli contains 2 g. A cup of corn kernels contains 6 g of sugar and a sweet potato contains 13 g per cooked cup.
Although one cup of sliced tomatoes has 5 g of sugar, it provides only 32 calories and 0 g of fat. This cup also offers 1,499 IU of vitamin A, 23 mg of vitamin C and 14 micrograms of vitamin K. Tomatoes are also a high source of potassium, with 427 mg per cup. Cooked tomatoes provide the antioxidant lycopene, which may help protect men against prostate cancer.
Some tomato products contain added sugars. Many jarred sauces and condiments, particularly ketchup, have sugar added to soften the acidic taste tomatoes often have. Read food labels and check the ingredient list for items such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose or sucrose.