18 Common Side Effects of Consuming Excess Tomatoes

The versatility of tomatoes has made them a popular food component through the years. We eat them raw, pureed or cooked, in sauces, salads, and drinks. Tomatoes are a rich source of various macro and micronutrients including fiber, lycopene, vitamins A, C and K, lutein, zeaxanthin and minerals like potassium. But popular as they may be, and similar to many good things, tomatoes have their dark side. You should, therefore, take care so that you don’t consume too many.

Disadvantages of Eating Tomatoes in Excess Amount

1. Heartburn

Because tomatoes are acidic, consuming them in excess can lead to heartburn. This happens when the two prominent acids in tomatoes; citric and malic cause the stomach too much gastric acid to break down ingested food. When too much gastric acid is produced within a short time, some of it ends up flowing into the esophagus. This acid reflux presents as what is known as heartburn. It is worth noting that cooking the tomatoes is of little help.

Tomatoes may also worsen symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you have persistent acid reflux problems, it is recommended that you reduce or avoid consumption of acidic foods items such as tomatoes.

2. Allergic Reactions

Consumption of tomatoes can lead to allergic reactions whose symptoms include skin rash, hives, sneezing, coughing, itchy throat, eczema, and even facial and oral swelling. In case of tomato allergies, the symptoms appear soon after consuming them. Studies indicate that tomatoes contain histamine compounds which are responsible for the allergic reactions.

3. Kidney Issues

Kidney problems are other disadvantages of eating tomatoes. This usually affects individuals who have advanced kidney disease. For this reason, patients with chronic kidney disease should avoid tomatoes because of the high potassium, oxalate, and water content.  

4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The skins and seeds of tomatoes have an irritating effect which may affect the bowel lining leading to irritable bowel syndrome. People who suffer from IBS should avoid tomatoes.

5. Diarrhea

People with tomato intolerance can suffer from diarrhea when they consume tomatoes. And according to some scientists, tomatoes are highly acidic and greasy, which can lead to diarrhea. Raw tomatoes may also be a source of salmonella, an organism that can cause diarrhea.

6. Excess Sodium

Consuming tomato sauces which are high in sodium can cause you to take excess sodium. For instance, a cup of tomato soup may contain 700 - 1,260mg sodium while canned tomatoes have an average of 440mg sodium per cup.

To avoid high sodium intake, choose low sodium tomatoes and tomato products.

7. Lycopenodermia

Tomatoes contain high amounts of health-boosting lycopene. But this can also present a problem because excess lycopene can lead to lycopenodermia. This presents as a deep- orange coloring of skin. While one more of the disadvantages of eating tomatoes, lycopenodermia is not a threat to health. The condition can also occur if you take lycopene supplements in large amounts. The good news is that reducing or avoiding the lycopene source reverses the coloration.

8. Urinary Issues

Tomatoes and other acidic foods can cause bladder irritation which can lead to urinary issues like incontinence, and cystitis.

9. Body Aches

The immune system may cause a reaction due to some tomato proteins. This reaction can lead to release of histamines which may cause swelling and pain in joints. Additionally, tomatoes contain solanine, an alkaloid which causes build up of calcium in body tissues leading to inflammation. Tomatoes may also raise the levels of uric acid which is a cause of gout. Tomatoes may also trigger arthritic attacks in some individuals.

10. Respiratory Issues

If you have tomato allergy, eating tomatoes can lead to breathing difficulties. Tomatoes may also cause proliferation of molds which can contribute to allergies and respiratory issues.

11. Migraines

Some studies indicate that tomatoes can trigger migraine. In fact, some experts say that avoiding tomatoes can lead to 40 percent reduction in migraine headaches.

12. Gastrointestinal Problems

Tomatoes can cause gastrointestinal problems due to their high acid content. They may also stimulate higher production of gastric acid and hence lead to issues like heartburn and stomach pain.

These disadvantages of eating tomatoes show the need to be cautious in your tomatoes intake. Besides, those sensitive to tomatoes have to be extra careful.

13. Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

While normal consumption of tomatoes is safe even for pregnant and nursing mothers, it is not clear what effect large quantities can have. For this reason, it is prudent to only eat regular amounts. In case you like eating lots of tomatoes and you are pregnant or are nursing a baby, talk to your doctor about it. Note also that tomato compounds can find their way into breast milk which may interfere with your baby’s interest in breastfeeding.

14. Interfering with Immune Function

Intake of excess lycopene by consuming large quantities of tomatoes can interfere with the immune function making it less effective in fighting bacterial and fungal infections.

15. Affecting Prostate Gland

High levels of lycopene can adversely affect the prostate gland leading to prostate pain, urinating difficulties or even cancer.

16. Skin Discoloration

Consuming large amounts of tomatoes can lead to darkening of the skin.

17. Diverticulitis

By consuming large quantities of tomatoes, you end up with large amounts of tomato seeds which may get trapped in the large intestines, causing inflammation or diverticulitis.

18. Irritation of Eyes and Lips

Consuming too many tomatoes can cause irritation of the eyes and lips. This can interfere with vision and lead to swelling of the lips.

How Many Tomatoes Should I Eat?

So, in the light of these disadvantages of eating tomatoes, what is the optimum quantity of tomatoes to eat in a day? According to most experts, up to 1/3 cup is safe in one day. However, this is only an average quantity because people have different tolerance levels.