Tomatoes are incredibly common produce most of us have in our fridges right now. Even though they’re classified as a fruit, we mostly use tomatoes in salads, dinner dishes, and sandwiches.
They’re delicious, juicy, and versatile, adding the taste of summer to many meals.
However, tomatoes may not be suitable for everyone’s dietary needs. So, are tomatoes acidic? Is it healthy to eat them every day?
Are Tomatoes Acidic?
Tomatoes are more acidic than alkaline. They promote the production of acid in our stomachs, worsening the symptoms of GERD and acid reflux. Furthermore, tomatoes that are riper tend to be less acidic, while unripe ones are leaning more towards the acidic end of the pH scale.
This makes tomatoes a bad food to consume if you’re sensitive to acidic foods.
What is the pH level of tomatoes?
The pH level of tomatoes stays between 4.3-4.9, making them rather acidic. As a general rule of thumb, foods with a pH of 4.6 or below are acidic and can aggravate GERD symptoms, acid reflux, and heartburn.
The acidity level of tomatoes also doesn’t make them ideal for people with other types of food insensitivities since they can cause indigestion.
Different types of tomatoes, as well as ways in which they’re prepared, have different pH levels. Because of that, some people might be able to tolerate tomatoes, just not in their war form.
As with everything, it’s important to check in with yourself and take note of what foods make your symptoms worse.
How healthy are tomatoes?
Tomatoes have a high water content (nearly 95%) and are low in calories. The calories that they do have come from carbohydrates, such as sugars and fiber. Since tomatoes contain fiber, they can help with digestion.
Fiber also soaks up excess acid in your stomach, which is often the main culprit in acid reflux and heartburn. Hence, eating tomatoes every once in a while can help many stomach issues.
Tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K1, and potassium. These are essential nutrients and minerals that help maintain proper body functions, such as blood clotting and bone density.
Vitamin C, which tomatoes are filled with, helps prevent scurvy and strengthen your immune system, while potassium keeps your heart healthy, reducing the risk of a heart attack.
In addition, tomatoes contain a high number of antioxidants. These compounds help remove free radicals from our bodies, ensuring proper metabolic functions.
Antioxidants are also helpful in flushing out unnecessary substances from our digestive systems.
This makes tomatoes a good addition to a diet focusing on healthy bowel movements. Doctors recommend antioxidants for people with acid reflux as they help alleviate the damage that the excess acid causes to the stomach lining and intestines.
Due to their high vitamin and antioxidant content, tomatoes can help in preventing heart attacks and strokes. In addition, they contain anti-inflammatory properties that keep the heart muscles and tissue healthy.
Tomatoes also prevent blood clots from forming, which can be life-threatening, especially when they travel to the most important blood vessels and arteries. Hence, including tomatoes in your diet can help in preventing these issues.
Are tomatoes bad for acid reflux and GERD?
Unfortunately, tomatoes contain two types of acids: malic and citrus. Both of these acids trigger acid reflux, especially in people particularly prone to it.
In addition, consuming tomatoes and tomato-based products causes an increased gastric acid production to break down the food.
However, some people produce too much acid that then gets backed up in their esophagus, creating a burning sensation. As a result, tomatoes may not be suitable for people struggling with such conditions.
There are many forms of medications that you can take that prevent heartburn altogether or alleviate the symptoms.
However, the only sure way to get rid of this problem is to remove tomatoes from your diet completely. This means all forms of tomatoes: tomato soup, tomato sauce, puree, juice, and pasta.
For some people, this can prove difficult, but there are many substitutes that people can use, such as bell pepper paste and sauce.
Is tomato juice acidic?
The pH level of tomatoes changes depending on the preparation form and the type of tomatoes used.
Tomato juice has a slightly lower pH level than raw tomatoes, ranging between 4.1-4.6. This is due to the fact that tomato juice doesn’t contain the same amount of fiber that raw tomatoes do.
Most of the tomato’s fiber content is located right underneath the skin, and the process of making tomato juice generally involves peeled tomatoes.
Due to its more acidic nature, drinking tomato juice, especially in large quantities, may not be good for people with severe GERD or acid reflux symptoms.
In addition, some store-bought tomato juices are also loaded with pepper and strong spices, making them even worse for acid reflux and heartburn.
Are cherry tomatoes acidic?
Cherry tomatoes have nearly the same acidity level as regular tomatoes. The only difference is that cherry tomatoes have a higher sugar content, which masks the acidic taste.
This means that cherry tomatoes are not less acidic; their acidity is simply undetectable.
Some people, however, handle cherry tomatoes better than regular ones, probably due to their ripeness.
Are canned tomatoes acidic?
Canned tomatoes are more acidic than their raw counterparts. This is because the process of canning requires preservatives that lower the pH level.
Canned tomatoes have a ph level of around 3.5. The preservatives that lower the pH are necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria since the cans often stay on shelves for a long time.
Hence, it’s best to avoid canned tomatoes altogether if you struggle with excess acid in your stomach.
Tomatoes are acidic and can worsen symptoms of GERD, heartburn, and acid reflux. Many different varieties of tomatoes are less acidic, though, so considering their health benefits, it’s a good idea to include them in your diet.
At the end of the day, every person responds differently to food products, so it’s essential to make sure that you’re eating foods that don’t make you feel worse.
Alicia is the senior content editor and writer here at Food FAQ. She has extensive experience with acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, and various supplements. When not eating food for “research”, she’s watching “Friends” for the 100th time.