While tomatoes are generally safe to eat, they can cause dietary complications for some people. Tomatoes are naturally high in acid, which can cause heartburn for those with gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. People with a food intolerance to tomatoes may have difficulty digesting large quantities of tomato, and canned tomatoes can contain a lot of sodium, which may also cause health complications.
Acid reflux, also called heartburn or gastroesophageal disease, occurs when stomach acid regurgitates into the esophagus, creating a burning feeling. Acid reflux can occur when you eat high-acid foods, such as tomatoes, as well as fatty or spicy foods. If you regularly experience heartburn -- more than two times a week for several weeks -- you may have GERD, which requires medical attention.
Tomato intolerance can result from consuming small to large amounts of tomatoes, which can cause digestive trouble such as stomach pains and gas. The symptoms of tomato intolerance may vary from person to person, and in mild cases, symptoms may not result unless large amounts of tomato are eaten, either raw or cooked. If you suffer from a potato, chili pepper or pepper intolerance, you may also find you have a tomato intolerance.
Watch the Sodium Intake
Canned tomatoes are often high in sodium, with a 1-cup serving containing 564 milligrams, while 1 cup of fresh, chopped tomatoes has only 9 milligrams. A diet high in sodium increases your risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular complications. Most Americans already consume too much sodium in their diets, largely due to prepared food products such as canned tomatoes. The upper limit of the recommended intake is 2,300 milligrams for most adults. If you are over 50, have a history of heart disease or are African-American, however, the upper limit drops to 1,500 milligrams per day. A 1-cup serving of canned tomatoes provides 25 percent to 38 percent of the upper limit of sodium.
Daily Vegetable Intake
Tomatoes can help make up an important part of a healthy diet. They help you meet your daily vegetable intake, which is 2 to 3 cups as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While you can eat only tomatoes to meet your vegetable requirement, the USDA recommends that red and orange vegetables, such as tomatoes, make up only 4 to 6 cups of your weekly vegetable intake in order to provide variety and the required amounts of essential nutrients.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- MedlinePlus: Gastroesophageal Reflux
- National Health Service: Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Tomatoe, Red, Ripe, Raw
- Colorado State University Extension: Sodium and the Diet