Tomatoes During Pregnancy: Possible Benefits And Risks

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Juicy red tomatoes not only look and taste great but are also rich sources of vitamins and antioxidants. But is it a good idea to eat tomatoes during pregnancy? Before including any food in your pregnancy diet, you must ensure that it is safe for the baby growing in your womb. Read this post to know whether or not consuming tomatoes is safe for expectant mothers. We also discuss the health benefits of the vegetable, which is technically a fruit, ways to include it in your regular diet, and the risks, if any.

Is It Safe To Eat Tomatoes During Pregnancy?

It is safe to eat tomatoes in pregnancy but in moderate quantities. They contain vitamins A, C, and folate, along with lycopene and iron that keep you and your fetus healthy.

Vitamin C helps in better absorption of iron that pregnant women need. If your doctor has recommended you to take iron supplements, consuming tomatoes might help in better absorption (1).

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Tomatoes During Pregnancy?

Tomatoes are tasty and provide multiple benefits when taken as a part of your diet.

1. Vitamins A and C

One medium-sized tomato gives almost 40% recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and 20% RDA of vitamin A. It also contains vitamin K, potassium, iron, and calcium, all of which are important for healthy fetal growth (2).

2. Calories

It is common to feel tired and lethargic during pregnancy, owing to the extra weight you are carrying. The rich calorie count in tomatoes provides enough energy and reduces lethargy.

3. Fiber

Tomatoes contain high levels of dietary fiber, which aids in healthy digestion. The fiber bulks up the stools, promotes peristaltic movements of the smooth digestive muscles, and stimulates digestive juices (3).

4. Potassium

Nutritional benefits of eating tomato during pregnancy

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Regular consumption of tomatoes can reduce the risk of hypertension, i.e., preeclampsia, which is common during pregnancy. Potassium improves the blood flow and reduces the stress on the heart (4).

5. Antioxidants

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that helps in fighting cancer-causing radicals (5).

6. Lowers cholesterol

Lycopene prevents oxidation of the serum lipids to protect the heart. It helps reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood (6).

7. Folic acid

Tomatoes help you meet the RDA of folic acid. Folic acid is required to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord in babies (7).

9. Vitamin E

Topical application of tomato juice, which has vitamin E, which may help protect against sunburns (8).

If you are still not convinced about the goodness of tomatoes or not sure how much to consume every day, read on to know about how nutritious the plum-looking vegetable is.

Nutritional Value Of Tomatoes

The nutrient value of red, ripe or raw tomatoes per 100gm serving is as follows (9):

Folic acid15mcg
Vitamin A833IU
Vitamin C13.7mg

Tomatoes are highly nutritious and healthy, but it does not mean you should overindulge in them.

What Are The Possible Risks Of Overeating Tomatoes In Pregnancy?

Overeating tomatoes can cause digestion problems

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Excess consumption of any food item can backfire. This applies to tomatoes as well. Eating one too many tomatoes can lead to:

  • Heartburn because of the vegetable’s acid content (10)

Now that you know why you should eat tomatoes and how much to eat, let’s see how to pick the right tomatoes.

How To Choose Tomatoes?

Choosing the right tomatoes is important

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It is important to choose the right tomatoes to enjoy the benefits they offer (12).

  • Look for bright red colored tomatoes with no bruises, blemishes or black spots. Dull or pale varieties will not have any flavor.
  • Go for vine-ripened varieties obtained directly from the farmers market, and for for those free of chemicals.
  • It should neither be too soft nor too hard.
  • Go for the heavier and denser tomatoes as they are juicy.
  • You can figure out the flavor by smelling the stem. It should ideally be sweet, strong and earthy.

Ways To Include Tomatoes In A Pregnancy Diet

Tomatoes add a unique flavor to a dish. Here is how you can use them in your diet for taste and health.

  • Raw tomatoes can be added to salads.
  • They are primary the ingredients in many Indian curries and purees.
  • Tomato soup can be a healthy alternative to a meal.
  • Tomato juice is an excellent snack or breakfast option to keep you fresh.
  • Sliced tomato can be used in sandwiches.
  • Homemade ketchup with tomatoes can be yummy!
  • Sun-dried and grilled tomatoes are a part of continental recipes.

Here are a few pregnancy-friendly tomato recipes you can try:

1. Tomato soup

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You will need:

  • 5 cups chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup split yellow gram
  • ½ cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1tsp low-fat butter
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1tsp black pepper, freshly ground

How to:

  1. Add four cups of water, tomatoes and split yellow gram to a non-stick saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium heat for eight to ten minutes until the tomatoes turn soft.
  3. Turn off the flame and keep the saucepan aside.
  4. Blend everything to form a smooth liquid. Keep aside.
  5. Take the same non-stick saucepan, add butter and onions. Sauté until they turn light brown.
  6. Add blended mixture, low-fat milk, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  7. Let it boil while stirring continuously. Simmer for five minutes.
  8. Serve hot with toasted whole wheat bread croutons.

Preparation time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4

2. Tomato relish

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You will need:

  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • A pinch of black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2tsp sugar
  • Fresh coriander

How to:

  1. Heat oil in a pan, and add onion, chili, and garlic. Cook them until they turn soft.
  2. Add tomatoes and mix properly.
  3. Add vinegar and sugar and let the mixture boil. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add salt and ground pepper and check for the consistency of jam.
  5. Turn off the flame and season the relish with coriander.

Preparation time: 10 to 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Next, we answer a few commonly asked questions about eating tomatoes when pregnant.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it safe to consume tomato juice during pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to consume tomato juice during pregnancy as it is rich in vitamin C. It improves the energy levels and lowers weakness. It also purifies the blood and helps in reducing blood pressure (13).

2. Is it safe to eat canned tomatoes during pregnancy?

It is not safe to eat canned tomatoes as they are prone to attracting bacteria, which could lead to botulism and other bacterial infections. Canned foods are processed to extreme temperatures to kill microbes, a process that destroys the nutrients and enzymes in the tomatoes. Moreover, food can linings contain a toxic substance known as bisphenol A (BPA), which is dangerous for both the mother and the fetus (14).

3. Can I eat tomato ketchup or sauce during pregnancy?

Tomato ketchup and sauce are safe during pregnancy as long as they are taken in moderation. There was a concern about the presence of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in these food items. However, MSG has since acquired a GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status, so consuming packaged tomato sauce and ketchup is alright unless consumed excessively (15).

4. Does craving tomatoes during pregnancy tell something about baby’s gender?

According to old wives tales, a craving for sour foods such as tomatoes can indicate that you are carrying a boy. However, it is just one of the many ways to guess the sex of the unborn child, although not a reliable one.

Unlike many other vegetables, tomatoes can be used in many different ways to improve the flavor of almost any meal. You can make salad, soup, juice, curries, and many other meals using tomatoes. Having tomatoes during pregnancy is safe as it contains vital nutrients such as vitamins, folate, iron, and others which enhance both mother and baby’s health. However, like with any other food during pregnancy, tomatoes should also be consumed in moderation. Moreover, it is suggested to select fresh, bright red-colored tomatoes rather than those that have been kept or canned.

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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different...
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Jyoti Benjamin

Jyoti Benjamin has 25 years of experience as a clinical dietitian and currently works in Seattle. She focuses on teaching people the value of good nutrition and helping them lead healthy lives by natural means. Benjamin has a masters in Foods and Nutrition, and has been a longtime member and Fellow of AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) and the...
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