Are Tomatoes Bad for Your Gut? Debunking Myths About A Versatile Fruit
What do ketchup, salsa, and pasta sauce have in common? You guessed it: tomatoes. While these tasty staples can be found in most households, the humble tomato has enjoyed its share of controversy over the years. From its status as a nightshade to its supposed effect on your gut, tomatoes sometimes get a bad rap. Today, we’re asking the question: are tomatoes bad for your gut? (Spoiler alert: they’re not!)
Tomatoes and Gut Health: A Family Tree
Tomatoes are part of a family of plants known as nightshades. Ominous name notwithstanding, this group includes many other kitchen favorites such as eggplants, peppers and potatoes. The family is so broad that it even contains certain poisonous plants–but more on that later.
For a long time, conventional wisdom advised people to steer clear of nightshades because of one key group of compounds in them: alkaloids. Alkaloids were long believed to cause bowel symptoms and to irritate the digestive tract, and they were also blamed for causing inflammation and aggravating arthritis symptoms. However, there is little medical evidence proving this, and research is ongoing.
The majority of current scientific evidence on alkaloids suggests that their ill effects mainly occur if plants are eaten in extremely large doses, or if atypical parts, such as tomatoes’ leaves, are eaten. While certain members of this family–such as deadly nightshade, or belladonna–are extremely poisonous and can cause serious side effects, the grocery-store variety isn’t generally a cause for concern for people who are trying to take care of their guts.
Note: Studies of mice suggest that the alkaloids in nightshades can aggravate intestinal permeability for people with autoimmune conditions such as leaky gut syndrome, or Irritable Bowel Disease, though more research and human testing is needed. Always consult your doctor before integrating new foods into your diet, and if you’re in doubt about ingredients or symptoms, get more information!
So Are Tomatoes a Gut-Friendly Food?
In short, yes! For people who do not live with autoimmune conditions, tomatoes do not need to be avoided; on the contrary, there is even some evidence that tomatoes could be beneficial to gut health, after a study showed increased good gut bacteria in pigs who were fed tomato powder. Tomatoes are also full of nutrients such as potassium and vitamins C and K, and they’re a good source of fiber, folate and antioxidants.
Even more surprising: tomatoes may have a more positive effect on the gut when cooked. A study from Spain concluded that this may be because the cooking process helps tomatoes retain the integrity of lycopene, their main antioxidant, during digestion. And for those who follow a low-FODMAP diet, have no fear: tomatoes are a low-FODMAP fruit! All in all, adding different varieties of raw or cooked tomatoes to your diet is not only delicious, but also potentially a good way to help take care of your gut microbiome and digestion.
Enjoying the Benefits of Tomatoes Every Day
So how can you make the best of these gut-friendly kitchen staples? Easy! There are tons of ways to use tomatoes in your cooking, from chopping them up on a salad to batch cooking your very own pizza sauce. And if you’re not into spending hours in the kitchen, have no fear: we’ve got you. Fody Foods’ ketchups, salsas and pasta sauces are made from vine-ripened California tomatoes with no triggering ingredients added, so that you can enjoy all the flavor without the bloat and irritation, whenever you’re in the mood.
From our plant-based Vegan Bolognese to the classic Marinara and our Tomato & Basil Sauce, our tomato-based products offer a range of flavors for every palate, and every occasion. Whether it’s a dose of sauce in your lasagna rolls or an adventurous bowl of salsa soup, you can find endless ways to use Fody’s gut-friendly sauces, salsas and ketchups in your everyday cooking in our recipes section. The only limit is your imagination!Remember that there’s no single recipe for a bloat-free life: it’s all about what makes you and your gut feel good! Head over to our recipes section to discover more gut-friendly ways to enjoy new foods, and visit our blog for more bloat-free lifestyle tips.