Are tomatoes good for IBS?

Medically Reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD, Founder Casa de Sante, the gut health brand

High fructose tomato juice has often been seen as a bad thing, but this may not be the case. Tomatoes and tomato-based products contain equal amounts of glucose to fructose, making them suitable for those on a low FODMAP diet. Remember, reactions to tomatoes do not necessarily indicate a problem with FODMAPs; Joanna Baker - Accredited Practicing Nutritionist - believes bad reactions may indicate another type of food intolerance. Continue reading to find out more!

Low FODMAP Tomato Products

Cherry Tomato (three tomatoes or 45g).

This low FODMAP cherry tomato tuna bites recipe features cherry tomatoes, which some people enjoy straight from the vine! Monash University and FODMAP Friendly both state that cherry tomatoes have a low FODMAP level - you can enjoy them in 45g (3 tomato) servings (1 4), although be mindful of how much you eat as each 60g serving contains moderate amounts of fructans (1).

Roma Tomato (1/2 Small)

Roma tomatoes are widely used in tomato paste production and canning. Half a small Roma tomato has a low FODMAP level of 1 4, so be mindful when using large amounts as they may become high in FODMAP (1 4).

Common Tomato (1/2 Small)

Common tomatoes can be found year-round and are a staple in my family's diet. While on the low FODMAP diet, you can enjoy half a small common tomato (1 serving). We suggest that you wait to see how well you tolerate fructose before increasing your serving size.

Canned Tomatoes (1/4 cup or 100g)

Canned tomatoes can be sneaky. Consuming more than 100g (1/2 cup) of tomatoes will cause your FODMAP intake to exceed the recommended serving size, so divide 400g into at least four portions; larger amounts of canned tomatoes contain moderate to high fructose (see recipe below for how to safely serve canned tomatoes). To learn how to safely serve canned tomatoes in my egg shhakshuka recipe, divide 400g into at least four portions and enjoy an even healthier breakfast!

Tomato Paste (2 tablespoons or 28g)

Low FODMAP dietitians often caution against using tomato paste due to its concentrated form, which was thought to contain more fructose than pure paste. However, Monash University tested tomato paste and discovered it to be low in FODMAPs at 2 tablespoons (1 tablespoon). You can even use tomato paste for making low FODMAP pizzas!

Tomato Sauce (2 packets, or 16g)

French fries with tomato sauce are one of my favorites! Even if you are following a low FODMAP diet, don't feel compelled to give up this comfort food. Monash University found that 16g (16 g) of tomato sauce (or 2 sachets) is low in FODMAPs (see table 1); larger servings should be limited during your low FODMAP phase due to moderate fructans levels present.

Products with moderate to high levels of FODMAP tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes (two pieces or eight grams)

Sun-dried tomatoes make a great snack on crackers, but unfortunately don't meet FODMAP requirements. A 20g serving contains moderate amounts of fructose (1%). Therefore, if you are on a low FODMAP phase, only 2 or 8g should be eaten per day. When making vegetable stocks concentrate for my homemade recipes, I like to add some sun-dried tomatoes for flavor.

USA Tomato Ketchup (sweetened with sucrose)

If you live in the USA, tomato-based ketchup should only be used if desired. Sucrarose sweetened ketchup contains high fructose malabsorption and comes in 26g (2 sachets). (1) While a 13g or 1 sachet serving could be enjoyed, it's recommended to watch portion sizes.

USA Tomato Ketchup (sweetened with high fructose corn syrup)

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is often avoided by those on the low FODMAP diet. You may be able to tolerate eating small amounts of ketchup sweetened with HFCS; you could get away with two packets (26g), while a single serving size of 13g might be acceptable.

Tomato-Based Pasta Sauces with Onions and Garlic

While on the low FODMAP phase, avoid tomato-based pasta sauces that contain garlic or onion. Even small amounts can contain high fructans (see chart).

Tomato Pastata Recipe (more than 1/4 Cup)

Plain tomato passata can become high FODMAP due to fructose (1). If you are on the first phase of your low FODMAP diet, you can eat 1/4 cup of it; however, it is best to limit larger portions until after reintroduction has taken place.

What are your reactions to tomatoes? It could not be a FODMAP issue
It is possible that you aren't experiencing an issue with low FODMAP tomato products. Other naturally occurring food chemicals like salicylates and glutamates are found in tomatoes (2). Food chemical sensitivities may manifest as hives, headaches, stomach or bowel problems (2). Speak with a dietitian if you think there may be an issue with food chemicals; they can create an individualized plan for managing symptoms.

Additional Considerations

Swain, Soutter & Loblay (2011) conducted research to determine how tomatoes' levels of ripeness impact their fructose and other food chemicals present. As tomatoes mature, salicylates tend to decrease while amines and glutamates increase. Furthermore, ripeness affects sugar levels as glucose drops while fructose rises, creating an imbalanced glucose/fructose ratio (3). As such, some types and levels of tomato ripeness may be more tolerable for certain individuals than others.

Last Thoughts

Low FODMAP tomatoes come in many varieties. However, you should be mindful of how much you eat. Consult your dietitian if you experience any difficulties when eating tomatoes or tomato-based products. Get some more low FODMAP tomato recipes here.

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