Tomatoes account for about 22% of vegetable intake in Western diets, and previous research has associated the consumption of tomatoes with reduced risk for the development of various conditions that include cardiovascular disease and some cancers. In recent years, it has been demonstrated that tomatoes can be beneficial for gut health. Researchers have found that tomatoes contain compounds that help to promote the growth of beneficial gut microbes, which could potentially help in maintaining healthy digestion and reduce the risk of diseases associated with poor gut health [1]. Many studies, mostly done in animals, have shown that consuming tomatoes can help to improve the diversity of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome, as well as reduce inflammation and improve digestion [1,2,3].


Gut Benefits of Tomatoes

There are several benefits of eating tomatoes for gut bacteria. Tomatoes contain several compounds that encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome which can help to protect against pathogens and keep your gut functioning properly. One of these compounds is lycopene, which is an antioxidant known to reduce inflammation throughout the body and protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Additionally, tomatoes contain vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber which can help to promote a healthy digestive system.

  • Rich in Fiber: Tomatoes contain dietary fiber, which is essential for promoting healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. Fiber helps in preventing constipation and maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
  • Source of Antioxidants: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants like lycopene, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which have anti-inflammatory properties. These antioxidants help in reducing inflammation in the gut and may lower the risk of certain gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Supports Gut Microbiota: The diverse array of nutrients found in tomatoes can support the growth and diversity of beneficial gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiota is crucial for overall gut health and immune function.
  • Low in Calories: Tomatoes are low in calories but high in nutrients, making them a great addition to a balanced diet. Consuming foods like tomatoes that are nutrient-dense can contribute to better overall health, including gut health.

Risks of Tomato Consumption

While uncommon for most people, there are some potential risks of consuming too many tomatoes.

Short-Term Effects: Acid reflux, digestive distress, vomiting, headache, and can trigger skin allergies.

Long-Term Effects: Aggravate kidney and urinary problems.

Drug Interactions: May interfere with blood pressure-lowering and blood-thinning medications.


Final Thoughts

To get the most out of eating tomatoes for your gut health, there are some tips you should keep in mind when incorporating them into your diet. Tomatoes can be eaten fresh or cooked. In fact, cooking tomatoes gives the added benefit of increasing their nutrient content. Also, be sure to choose organic varieties whenever possible since they are free from harmful pesticides and other chemicals that could potentially damage your gut microbiome.

While tomatoes may very well have benefits to gut health, it’s essential to note that individual responses to tomatoes may vary. Some people with certain digestive conditions like acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find that tomatoes exacerbate their symptoms. In such cases, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable diet for your specific needs. 



[1] Collins, E. J., Bowyer, C., Tsouza, A., & Chopra, M. (2022). Tomatoes: An Extensive Review of the Associated Health Impacts of Tomatoes and Factors That Can Affect Their Cultivation. Biology, 11(2), 239.

[2] Liso, M., De Santis, S., Scarano, A., Verna, G., Dicarlo, M., Galleggiante, V., Campiglia, P., Mastronardi, M., Lippolis, A., Vacca, M., Sobolewski, A., Serino, G., Butelli, E., De Angelis, M., Martin, C., Santino, A., & Chieppa, M. (2018). A Bronze-Tomato Enriched Diet Affects the Intestinal Microbiome under Homeostatic and Inflammatory Conditions. Nutrients, 10(12), 1862.

[3] Goggans ML, Bilbrey EA, Quiroz-Moreno CD, Francis DM, Jacobi SK, Kovac J, Cooperstone JL, (2022). Short-Term Tomato Consumption Alters the Pig Gut Microbiome toward a More Favorable Profile. Microbiol Spectr 10:e02506-22.