Tomato Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  13 min read
tomato benefits and side effects

Health

Tomato health benefits may include:

Additionally, tomatoes are…

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Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 214 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of tomatoes / 26 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of tomatoes

Carbon footprint: low, 1.1 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of tomatoes, a car driving equivalent of 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers

Destruction: low, tomato production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Tomatoes are…

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Animals

Kills: none, tomato production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, tomato production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from tomato production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Tomatoes are…

Laborers

Health and safety: hazardous, workers may experience physical abuse, exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides without protection

Living conditions: poor, high rates of human trafficking, specifically in Immokalee, Florida, in the USA a third of all tomatoes are from Florida and during winter 90%, workers are in the heat and sun for 10-12 hours per day, must share living quarters with many others, sometimes 20 people

Wages: low, reports say workers earn less than 2 cents per pound of tomatoes, workers from Mexico and Guatemala are promised jobs in the USA, they are illegally trafficked and once in Florida must work on tomato farms to repay their debts to their transporters, they must additionally pay over $200 in rent every month 

Tomatoes…

In the United States, Florida and California comprise over two-thirds of total U.S. fresh-tomato acreage but fresh-market tomatoes are produced in every state.

The world’s top tomato exporting country is Mexico, followed by Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Morocco, USA, Belgium, France, Italy and Uzbekistan.

Yes! Tomatoes are high in lycopene and all of the major carotenoids such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein,  B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin E, potassium, coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid.

tomatoes are alkaline.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Are tomatoes alkaline or acidic?

Tomatoes are alkaline.

What is the pH level of tomatoes?

Tomatoes have an 8.0 pH level once digested.

Are canned tomatoes acidic?

Yes. All canned fruit is acidic and not ideal for an alkaline diet.

Tomatoes are commonly mistaken for being an acidic food. While tomatoes have a chemically acidic pH outside of the human body, they are extremely alkaline once ingested and metabolized.

If you have acid reflux or GERD you should avoid tomatoes because they are ‘acidic’ outside the body or before digestion. Acid reflux occurs at the lower end of your esophagus, before food can reach the stomach and be digested as alkaline.

If you do not have acid reflux or GERD, most fresh fruits, like tomatoes, are ideal for an alkaline diet. With a healthy digestive system, they can be properly metabolized and will become alkaline in the process.

After all, a true alkaline diet mostly consists of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Clinical studies report that eating high alkaline foods and staying properly hydrated may reduce the rate of cancer and other diseases!

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

tomatoes are gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Are tomatoes gluten free?

Yes, tomatoes are gluten free. Tomatoes do not contain gluten. Tomatoes are a type of fruit, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

tomatoes are not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is tomatoes a common food allergen?

No, tomatoes are not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to tomatoes but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

tomatoes are part of the dirty dozen.

dirty dozen foods that get the most pesticides

Are tomatoes part of the dirty dozen?

Yes, tomatoes are part of the dirty dozen foods that should only be purchased organically.

The dirty dozen refers to twelve types of produce that receive the heaviest amounts of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) updates the list annually to publish the latest trends in agriculture. An organic diet is always preferable, as there is less exposure to problematic pesticides and toxic chemicals which are not only beneficial to health but undoubtably the environment as well. 

Health conditions that are linked to pesticide exposure are: diabetes, cancer and neurological defects like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s,  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), birth defects, and reproductive disorders; not to mention laborers employed in agriculture that touch and breathe in pesticides, making them vulnerable to acute and chronic poisoning. 

The environmental impact of pesticides includes pollution to water systems and air, the emergence of “superweeds”, which can now resist normal herbicides and perhaps worst of all, declining pollinator populations -essential for all food production!

Consumers are advised that if they don’t tend to purchase organic foods regularly, then at the very least they should opt for organic when shopping for the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables

The dirty dozen include:

Buying organic ensures the farmers have met strict guidelines to produce safe food that is best for minimal toxin exposure and overall health.

Here’s an excellent resource for further information on pesticides: Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu

tomatoes are a nightshade food.

nightshade vegetables and foods include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and more

Are tomatoes a nightshade food?

Yes, tomatoes are nightshade food.

Common nightshade foods include:

Check out this Nightshade Foods List to see them all.

Foods commonly mistaken as nightshades (but are not) include:

Nightshade allergy reactions include:

Nightshade vegetables provide excellent nutrition, so there is no need to stop eating them unless you suspect you are sensitive to nightshade foods. If so, eliminate them from your diet to see if symptoms disappear. 

Here’s an excellent resource for further information on food intolerances: The Elimination Diet: Discover the Foods That Are Making You Sick and Tired by Tom Malterre and Alissa Segersten, MS, CN 

tomatoes are a low-fodmap food.

fodmap friendly food

Are tomatoes FODMAP friendly?

Yes. Tomatoes are a low-FODMAP food and ok to eat while on a low-FODMAP diet. 

A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.

See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food

tomatoes have a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Do tomatoes have a high or low water footprint?

Tomatoes have a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of tomatoes?

It takes 214 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of tomatoes / 26 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of tomatoes.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

tomatoes have a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Do tomatoes have a high or low carbon footprint?

Tomatoes have a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of tomatoes?

It takes around 1.1 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of tomatoes, a car driving equivalent of 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

tomatoes are sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, are tomatoes eco friendly? Are tomatoes sustainable?

Tomato production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

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tomatoes are vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Are tomatoes vegan?

Yes, tomatoes are vegan. Tomatoes are a fruit and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

tomatoes have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Are tomatoes a product with laborer concerns?

At this time there are human rights concerns with tomato production, especially for tomatoes from Immokalee, Florida.

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Conclusion

Tomato pros include:

Tomato cons include:

Sources:

Global Citizen: The 6 Worst Foods To Buy If You Care About Humanity

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Medical News Today: Nightshade vegetables

Environmental Working Group: dirty dozen

National Center for Biotechnology Information: Pesticides and human chronic diseases: evidences, mechanisms, and perspectives

University of Washington, School of Public Health: Health risks of pesticides in food

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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