Heartburn and Acid Reflux: Are Tomatoes Responsible?

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Many people who suffer from chronic acid reflux hesitate when it comes to particular food and beverage choices. They do a lot of research first no matter what food or drink it is, to avoid flare-ups. Even items that are advertised as helpful get some scrutiny. 

Do probiotics help acid reflux? That’s a whole other story. 

Will eating tomatoes trigger acid reflux and heartburn? Read on to find out.

Defining Acid Reflux

The digestive condition acid reflux or chronic acid reflux used to be known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s when stomach juices and the occasional food particles regurgitate. Side effects of an episode include constant burping, heartburn, nausea, and even a sore throat. When 2-3 episodes happen in the span of a single month, that’s already acid reflux disease.

Usual episode triggers include:

  • Acidic foods (lemons, lemon juice, pickles, tomatoes, tomato sauce)
  • Fried foods
  • High-fat foods
  • Processed foods (e.g., chips)
  • Spicy food

Defining Heartburn

One of the most severe symptoms of acid reflux disease is heartburn. Since stomach juice is acidic and corrosive, acid reflux episodes lead to it flowing through the esophagus and irritating its lining. This leads to an intense burning sensation right in the middle of one’s chest, which is how the term ‘heartburn’ came about. It’s also felt behind the throat, though it depends on the stomach juices’ tractions.

Severe heartburn sees the regurgitated stomach juices make their way to the back of the mouth. It will lead to a taste that’s, well, acidic but also sour, metallic, and just plain unpleasant.

Other symptoms aside from those previously mentioned also include bloating, coughing, hoarseness, a sore throat, and a sore tongue. They can even wake a person up from their evening slumber.

Tomatoes and Acid Reflux: Is There a Correlation?

The short answer is no; tomatoes barely cause acid reflux, but only if a person is healthy. A healthy person can be defined as one who:

  • Eats a well-balanced diet
  • Has Good digestive health
  • Has Good overall health
  • Has no previous history of GERD

It should be noted that if someone has a history of acid reflux disease or they’re actively suffering from it, tomatoes will serve as a trigger. 

People with mild to moderate cases can take limited amounts of fresh tomatoes, and even plain tomato sauces as long as they’re made with cooked fresh tomatoes only. Severe cases will be triggered by tomato byproducts, including:

  • Canned tomato products
  • Tomato juice
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato sauce

Ingredients typically combined with tomato products can also be a trigger such as:

  • Cooking oils
  • Garlic
  • Hot spices
  • Lemon juice
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Vinegar

All of this is largely due to the fact that tomatoes are naturally acidic—some more than others. Needless to say, acidic foods will end up triggering acid reflux.


There are often a lot of questions surrounding what can trigger acid reflux. Some people wonder whether baking soda helps with acid reflux, for example. Tomatoes are often a point of discussion as well; for people in good health, tomatoes won’t trigger acid reflux.

You’ve read about tomatoes, but now you’re also wondering: can mustard cause heartburn? Find all the answers at Reflux Away! It’s your heartburn resource that can help you learn more about what heartburn is, how it’s treated, and more!