Do Tomatoes Cause Heartburn?

Heartburn can be an extremely unpleasant experience. If you frequently feel that uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest or bitter taste of acid in your mouth, you may feel extra motivated to look for ways to prevent it, including examining your diet for potential culprits. So what about tomatoes? While tomatoes are often touted as a healthy food rich in vitamins and antioxidants, they can be a dietary source of pain for those prone to heartburn, per Augusta Health.

Unfortunately for those with frequent tomato cravings, the acid content they contain can trigger heartburn. More specifically, tomatoes contain both malic and citric acid, which are known to cause heartburn. And it's not just tomatoes that can trigger heartburn, but any tomato-based product. For individuals who tend to overproduce gastric acid when they eat tomato products, the gastric acid can flow back up into the esophagus, causing that notorious burning sensation in the chest. 

Sadly, for tomato lovers, the only way to prevent this is to remove tomatoes and tomato products from the diet completely (via Augusta Health).

Simple swaps

Going tomato-free doesn't have to be painful, though, as there are many alternative options to explore. 

Take the all-time favorite marinara sauce, for instance. The internet has a plethora of tomato-free recipes for those prone to heartburn. The GERD Chef developed a recipe opting for carrot, celery, zucchini, beet, and turnip as the vegetable component rather than tomatoes. Other good alternatives include pesto or olive oil mixed with Italian seasonings, adding an Italian flair without the gastrointestinal flare-up (via One Medical). 

Can't imagine eliminating tomato products from your diet just yet? Some heartburn sufferers have found that by mixing a small amount of baking soda into their sauces, they can neutralize tomato acid and prevent heartburn (via One Medical). Another popular trick is to mix shredded or juiced carrots into your tomato sauce or product. Carrots, particularly carrot juice, have a naturally alkaline profile that neutralizes stomach acid, which may effectively prevent heartburn (via Livestrong).