Eating Tomatoes Could Be Harmful If You Have This Medical Condition

What harm could there be in enjoying a juicy, ripe tomato? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one medium-sized raw red tomato contains 12.3 milligrams of calcium, 13.5 milligrams of magnesium, 29.5 milligrams of phosphorus, and 292 milligrams of potassium. While many foods lose some of their nutritional value when cooked, tomatoes hold on tight to their vitamins and minerals. When cooked, that 292 milligrams of potassium, for example, only drops to 268 milligrams (per USDA). While it is a healthy fruit that enhances any stew, pasta, or grilled panini sandwich, there are still some instances in which tomatoes may be best avoided, especially if you're someone who has stomach ulcers.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports that approximately 1% to 6% of Americans are affected by stomach ulcers, or peptic ulcers, which is not the same as having gastritis. Of all the causes of stomach ulcers — or sores that develop within the stomach lining — NSAID use or H. pylori bacterial infection are most often responsible. People who smoke, older adults, or those who have a history of peptic ulcers tend to be more prone to the condition. For some individuals, stomach ulcers can come with uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms and certain foods may only make matters worse, including tomatoes.

Tomatoes may be too acidic for those with stomach ulcers

Although some patients present as asymptomatic, people with stomach ulcers may experience abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, belching, or feelings of excessive fullness after eating (per NIDDK). According to Medical News Today, an accumulation of acid within the gastrointestinal tract is thought to contribute to the development of peptic ulcers. Foods with a high acid concentration further add to this acidic buildup, and tomatoes are one such food.

Eating tomatoes may heighten the risk of developing stomach ulcers in the first place, but they can also work against those of us who already have them. Certain prescription medications, such as proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers, can be used to accelerate healing and decrease stomach acid production (per NIDDK). However, experts at AARP state that tomato products may counteract the effects of these medications and instead prompt heartburn-like symptoms. Also falling into the category of highly acidic fruits you may want to pass on are lemons, grapefruit, and oranges.

Have a stomach ulcer? Try these foods instead of tomatoes

All that being said, what gives one person stomach issues may not be the same story for somebody else. Maybe for you, tomatoes cause bloating or discomfort, but another person may be able to stomach them just fine. Furthermore, WebMD notes there is no definitive research to suggest tomatoes or citrus fruits negatively impact stomach ulcers, so you'll want to do what's best for you. If tomatoes routinely give you tummy trouble, go ahead and exclude them from your diet. In other words, listen to your gut — pun intended.

Whether to eat tomatoes will ultimately depend on each person's unique circumstances. However, there are foods more definitively known to benefit people with stomach ulcers. This includes probiotic-containing foods like tempeh, kimchi, or yogurt, particularly if your peptic ulcers are related to an H. pylori infection. Loading up on sweet potatoes may also be helpful, as their vitamin A content may help protect against or heal existing ulcers. While they may share a bright red appearance, unlike tomatoes, red bell peppers are another great choice as they may have protective properties against stomach ulcers.