Can You Eat Too Many Tomatoes?

Technically a fruit, but more often than not considered a vegetable, tomatoes are truly a superfood. Not only do they contain almost 25mg of vitamin C per one-cup serving, which is 27% of the USDA's recommended daily allowance, but they are also a good source of vitamin A, potassium, vitamin K, and several B vitamins (via Tomatoes are also a rich source of potent antioxidants like carotenoids and lycopenes, which are responsible for their bright red color.

Lycopene has been shown in scientific studies to have strong blood pressure-lowering effects, as well as possible cancer-fighting properties and the ability to reduce the harmful effects of the sun's rays on our skin (via A 2015 review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science NutritionĀ links the carotenoids and lycopene in tomatoes with a reduced risk of obesity and high cholesterol levels. Eating tomatoes is undoubtedly good for you, but is it possible to eat too many and cause harm to your health? Is there a toxic level of tomato eating that can actually outweigh their many benefits? Unfortunately, yes, there are two different conditions that can develop if you eat too many tomatoes.

Citric acid and the digestive system

Tomatoes contain high amounts of citric acid, which acts as a natural preservative and the fruit's natural defense against bugs, molds, and other fungi (via AZCentral). Citric acid is common in citrus fruits such as limes and lemons, but what many people don't know is that it makes up 9% of tomatoes by dry weight. While citric acid in and of itself is not bad for you, eating too much of it can result in digestive problems.

According to Dr. Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist, eating too many citrus fruits and tomatoes are common ways to trigger acid reflux. He says you should particularly avoid eating them on an empty stomach when the citric acid interacts with the gastric acid without any buffer. According to Dr. Anshul Gupta, a certified family medicine physician, eating too many tomatoes can also cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which results in bloating, constipation, and sometimes nausea. He also says that certain tomato-based foods, like ketchup, which may also contain high fructose corn syrup, can be even more damaging to the digestive system if consumed excessively.