Are Tomatoes Bad For Gout?

We all eat tomatoes, we are either eat them fresh in a salad, God knows I love my Greek salad, or we either eat them as a sauce, paste, juice and ketchup! Tomato is a popular vegetable, some say it’s a fruit since it contains seeds but at the end tomatoes contain a rich source of antioxidants, is high in vitamin C and lycopene, a naturally occurring chemical that gives fruits and vegetables a red color like watermelon, apricots or pink grapefruits. In addition, tomatoes carry a lot of water.

There is a misconception amongst certain gout sufferers that tomatoes actually cause gout attacks. This is simply not true if you closely examine the ingredients. Tomatoes are 90% water and water is important for us gout sufferers. Next, tomatoes are a low purine food and all of my readers should know by now that foods that are high in purines can trigger a gout attack. What else? Tomatoes are low in sugar and carbs as well. Heck they’re even very low in calories. 100 grams only has 18 calories! Furthermore, 100 grams of tomatoes has 237mg of potassium! So where do people get the idea that tomatoes are bad for us?

It’s true when tomatoes are cooked they do become slightly acidic in the body once they are metabolized but not anything significant that will cause any serious harm to your health. For example, when cooking them, tomatoes release more lycopene which is very beneficial for so many other health conditions. If you eat them fresh like I do in my Greek salad then you’ll experience less acidity.

Tomatoes are part of the “nightshades” food family which include potatoes, peppers and eggplant to which many people are allergic. Due to this fact many people believe that these vegetables increase inflammation and arthritis pain although there is no research that has proven this. This is where you must discern what is right from wrong and use some good ol’ common sense!

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The issue with tomatoes is that they have a low pH and that is probably why they are such a popular gout trigger and to complicate matters more, the pH in tomatoes varies depending on the variety of the tomato and how it has been processed.

Here is the approximate pH value of different processed tomatoes:

  • vine ripened 4.42-4.65
  • juice 4.10-4.60
  • canned 3.50-4.70
  • puree 4.30-4.47
  • paste 3.50-4.70
  • strained 4.32-4.58
  • Cherry tomatoes 4.00-4.50
  • Beefsteak 4.60-5.00
  • Roma and Vita Gold 5.10
  • Super Marzano 5.20
  • cream of tomato soup 4.62

As you can see tomatoes generally have a pH level of under 5 so that makes this food very acidic which is not good for gout sufferers.

There is a study that proves tomatoes decrease uric acid levels involving “Gazpacho” soup which is a vegetable soup but consists of at least 50% tomatoes. The proof lies in this study, make sure to check it out, it actually claimed to lower uric acid by 1-1.2 mg/dl for those who ate the soup daily! For Gazpacho soup recipes, make sure to check out Gout and You’s Pinterest page.

In August 2015, a new University of Otago study from New Zealand claims that tomatoes are indeed a gout trigger. A survey of New Zealanders who suffer from gout asked which foods caused their trigger and tomatoes were listed as a trigger 20.2% of the time. It was ranked as the fourth most commonly mentioned trigger behind alcohol, seafood and red meat. This data was then pooled and analysed from three long-running US studies to compare. The data showed that consuming tomatoes is linked to higher uric acid levels in the blood.

Here is a quote from one of the study’s researchers:

“Whilst our data cannot support the claim that tomato consumption is a trigger of gout attacks, we provide support for the hypothesis that tomato consumption may trigger gout attacks through increasing serum urate.”

There is speculation that since tomatoes are high in a compound called glutamate which can “stimulate or amplify the synthesis of urate by acting as a nitrogen donor in the purine synthesis pathway,” they suggested, that this may be the root cause. The researchers did state that further research is needed to determine this relationship between gout triggers and tomatoes.

Although tomatoes are very nutritious and obviously suitable for most gout patients, tomatoes should be consumed as part of an overall balanced diet. Don’t go eating tomatoes morning, day and night cause I wrote about the many benefits of this fine vegetable. Finally a word of caution. Try and read the labels of food products containing tomatoes and see how much sodium is in them, as well as sugar, since salt and sugar can wreak havoc on your health and may increase gout risk as well!

Posted by Spiro Koulouris

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    41 replies to "Gout and Tomatoes"

    • James Demello

      What about adding baking soda to the tomatoes soup to raise the PH level and make it less acidic?

    • Passa Caglia

      Thank you for your article! I love tomatoes, my Italian heritage includes lots of tomato dishes. I really like tomato soup and wonder if in your opinion that is not a good thing to keep in one’s diet. I have just been discovered to have gout. This is the first time, in my 80 years of life, for it to have shown up! Currently I am on on the Colchicine medication!

    • Candy

      I can’t believe that this link between gout and tomatoes has been known for so long and we just found out about it. My husband got hit very young at only 30 and has suffered from frequent and severe attacks for 14 years. They always get worse in the Summer. (Which happens to be when he loves to eat all of the fresh tomatoes from the garden. )Last month I was watching a video on a health supplement and the dr. mentioned tomatoes causing gout flares. In 14 years we’ve never been warned about tomatoes or seen them on any list. It was the height of tomato season in our garden and my husband had been eating them on everything and limping around in pain. I told him about the tomatoes and he stopped eating all tomato products. He’s walking better than he has in avery long time!

    • N. Waters

      Absolutely untrue! Tomatoes cause a severe flare in gout. My father OD’d on tomatoes from his garden and the response was quick and severe. If you have gout, I highly recommend staying away completely or eating low amounts.

    • Alexander

      Dear Spiro,

      I decided to leave a comment because of my concerns about your advice regarding tomatoes. You wrote: “There is a misconception amongst certain gout sufferers that tomatoes actually cause gout attacks. This is simply not true if you closely examine the ingredients”.

      I was diagnosed with gout more than 10 years ago and suffered from multiple gout attacks for many years until I was advised approximately 5 years ago to exclude tomatoes from my diet and after that gout attacks stopped. However, since I love tomatoes, on occasions I could not restrain myself from buying them. Every time (!) buying and eating several cherry tomatoes provoked an attack (happened at least twice a year during the last 5 years). The same happened when I eat conserved tomatoes in their own juice or add too much ketchup to food. Interestingly, big tomatoes such as beef tomatoes have only a minimal effect. For me as a scientist (biologist), my “experiments” clearly show that certain tomatoes are really bad for me. If tomatoes are not a problem for other sufferers it can only mean that gout can have different causes (This is not unusual for many other diseases – that is why one disease may respond to different medicines in different patients).

      Red wine also is a strong trigger for me but it is broadly known and not disputed – I do not drink it. I also strongly suspect that consumption of liver pate, which I love, causes problems. There are also some other weak triggers which may give some soreness (for example beef) but not real flare. Again, I am not saying this is the case for everyone.

      I would advise that everyone who has gout should try to do a simple check: stop eating tomatoes/ ketchup (also avoid alcohol, beef and liver– without doing that the experiment may not work) and see what result is. I am sure some (not all!) suffers will find it beneficial. If however you love tomatoes too much and cannot stop eating them, try to do your experiment differently: eat several cherry tomatoes or a lot of ketchup when you are free from flare – see whether this will trigger an attack. My GP (doctor) said 5 years ago that tomatoes definitely cannot be a trigger, but in fact they should recommend gout sufferers to start doing checks on themselves. Luckily – gout is the type of disease for which its triggers can be systematically checked! Many other diseases are not suitable for this!. If tomatoes are not triggers – there could be other ingredients in food that you can discover are problematic. It seems that gout is a diet-dependent condition!

      The recent scientific study that you mentioned in your blog in favour of support for tomato consumption as trigger of gout flares is convincing for me:

      In summary, although exclusion of tomatoes from diet will not help everyone, it can be extremely beneficial for some gout sufferers. Because exclusion of tomatoes is not a remedy for everyone it is probably because of that it is mainly overlooked by medical profession.

      P.S. For about half a year I have not had an attack. Yesterday I and my family were at a burger place and I could not resist adding ketchup (when gout does not come back for a long time, I tend to think that I am completely cured). Today I am limping and have to start a course of indomethacin as I do every time when I have eaten tomatoes. I have been angry with myself and decided to look if there are any changes in people’s perception about tomatoes regarding gout. That is how I found your site – it came as a top line for “gout and tomatoes” search.

      • Jeff

        I eat tomatoes of different variety fairly often, even stewed tomatoes. In fact, I eat a lot of things that someone who suffers from gout is told not to and over the past 2 years I have had no attacks. I even binge drink on occassion. What I avoid are things like ketchup or most things with added or refined sugars. When I do consume them, I do so sparingly. That, along with proper hydration have been the primary key for me.

        I’m less concerned with uric acid levels by themselves. That number is meaningless unless you pair it with the uric acid execretion rate. You can still get an attack with a low uric acid level, if your body is not excerting it quickly enough. Of course, this means that higher levels of uric acid increase the risk, because you have a lower bandwidth to play around with. Which is why I have found proper hydration to be paramount.

        There’s no cure for gout, so never delude yourself into thinking that. It’s a constant balancing act between levels in and levels out. Too much gout advice is focused solely on avoiding input, but increasing output is equally important.

      • Passa Caglia

        Thank you!

      • James Demello

        Ketchup is full of sugar. Sugar definitely triggers gout attacks.

    • Geoff Gregory

      Hi Spiro,

      We live in Australia and my wife got onto your site to assist me with gout management.
      I have to say that your website is the most definitive on the treatment and management of gout that I have ever accessed – it’s excellent.
      Too often when we visit our doctors (also called GPs or General Practitioners) we are told the same old message – avoid tomatoes, sardines and alcohol – a much too simplistic message.

      It wasn’t until I had done my own research that I found out that sugar was one of the most overlooked toxins for gout sufferers along with a diet high in meat.

      Thank you for your hard work and fantastic website.

      Cheers, Geoff and Maria

    • Wardie Ward

      I cured my gout attacks by ceasing to eat animal proteins, and in particular fish and chicken were high trigger foods for me. Recently I started drinking tomato juice daily and for the first time in ages my toe joint began to hurt and walking was painful. I don’t take meds, so I drank cherry juice until the pain subsided and stopped tomato juice drinks

    • Andrew Rosenthal

      The importance of eating organic as much as you can cannot be stressed enough. Does it make any sense to eat food that is sprayed with pesticides above ground and soaked in chemical fertilizer below? Think about it…

    • Raj

      Is cooked tomatoes better than raw when it comes to gout prevention? Like in a curry?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Yes cooked is better! The thermal processing enhances the nutritional value of tomatoes by increasing the bioaccessible lycopene content and total antioxidant activity.

        • Tony

          I buy canned or sometimes passata and make my own curries from scratch – when I do this, my gout attacks seem to be far less common. Of course my curries typically include garlic ginger turmeric fenugreek chillies and coriander, so they might actually be a great food for gout.

          Note I think this only applies if you make your own. You can control what goes in.

    • Boogie

      In my case. I can enjoy tomato without seeds.

    • Andrew Price

      Hi… can I just say that for a start… Tomatoes are not a vegetable, and secondly, they are indeed a proven trigger for me… Particularly tinned tomatoes and sauces like passata

      • Tony

        Well they’re not for me.

        Do you eat tomatoes on their own? How much testing have you done?

    • martin

      I totally agree with this. About 10 years ago I had a number of bad gout attacks. I started having tomato on toast for breakfast and have not had one since. I am not on any medication.

    • Ken

      For me personally your article is totally wrong. I have suffered from gout for many years and have leaned through much personal experimentING that eliminating tomatoes has prevented any further gout attacks. anytime I have anything to do with tomatoes in any form and immediate gout atrack within 24 hours.

      Proof is in the pudding so to speak. So I think you may be doing a dis-service to some of your readers to suggest there is absolutely no link between tomatoes and gout. Also, for every one of your articles I can find 10 that say there is a link..
      I never stopped eating tomatoes because of articles, I just happened to experiment on my on food intake and found the link.


      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Ken!

        Sure you can be the exception to the rule, it is not 100% true for everybody, it never really is, everybody is different and so are you. But the majority of the evidence points to tomatoes being bad for gout sufferers, the scientific proof is there.

    • Bill

      I get a gout flareup around Aug – Sept every year and was wondering why, finally I see a link between my garden tomatoes ripening and eating too many of them around this time, thanks for the info. Small amounts don’t seem to bother but eating them every day does.

    • Elizabeth Walsh

      My late husband suffered from gout & I’d read somewhere that tomatoes can make it worse. The nurse at our doctors surgery said, as you have, that they are ok. So when he was able to go out again he bought two big beef tomatoes, made a sandwich with one of them & the day after came down with gout again. He never touched another tomato again & never had another attack of gout either.

    • Deanna

      For the past couple of weeks I have been consuming a lot of tomatoes, as a big slice of tomato in a sandwich plus a lot of tomato in my salad. Believing it would be good for a diet as I am overweight a lot. The other day my toe started acting up and swelled. As I am prone to gout I am thinking that too many tomatoes is bad for me. I always drink a small glass of pure cherry juice a day but that didn’t help me so I had to get medication and am now recuperating.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Deanna!

        I noticed that too one summer, I was eating Greek salads every day cause the tomatoes are so much tastier in summer and got a gout attack. No wonder why it’s listed as one of the top 5 gout triggers by gout sufferers. That is one vegetable too watch for and eat sparingly.

    • JJ

      How about Kumatoes? I understand they are higher in fructose. Does anyone have any experience with eating Kumato and dealing with gout?

    • Andrew

      Hi Spiro

      how about tomatoe paste, i was wondering if i can have Bolognese sauce, i know tomatoe paste a main ingredient as well as beef mence which is a red meat and one to avoid, is lean beef mence ok to have, what about the herbs that are use can they trigger gout, so what i am asking is safe to have Bolognese sauce once a while, like the ones from a resturant.

      thank you

      kind regards


      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Andrew!

        Ya you can have your Bolognese sauce once in a while as long as you don’t have it 3 times in a day for example, it’s not the healthiest food but if you really like it, then have it once in a while but make sure your other meal doesn’t include meat since Bolognese already has meat in it. Get what I mean?

    • Andrew

      i like chicken and eat it a fair bit, i mainly eat meat once a day.

      i have gout and would like to know is 6 ounches of chicken ok every day for dinner with vegetables

      another question, is basa fish bad for gout, i mainly eat fish which isnt battered or crumb due to my gout, is basa good or bad for gout

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Andrew!

        Nothing wrong with some basa fish, it’s a scales fish, best way to eat fish is either grilled, baked or steamed.

    • safaa

      Dear Spiro,

      I stumbled across your website and it is really useful thank you.
      I would like to ask if you know if gout sufferers can have quorn in their diet? in the UK this is used as a meat substitute.
      any advice on this would be great thanks.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        As for corn, it won’t cause any gout attacks, it is a vegetable after all. I know there is all that controversy with Monsanto’s GMO corn, but I don’t know enough and haven’t it researched it enough as of yet to have any strong opinion on that subjectmatter.

      • Amit

        Quorn is actually a good way to replace your meats and in no way does it effect your gout.

        • Spiro Koulouris

          Yes it is a great meat substitute Amit! Thanks for the tip!

          • Andrew

            Is any quorn product good for gout, or is there some you need to avoid

    • Graham Feeney

      Dear Spiro
      I was wondering if you you could tell me if tomato can trigger a gout attack. I have not had a problem for quite a few months and recently ate some home grown tomatoes, you know, the ones that have a taste.
      My toe started to play up a couple of days later and I put it down to the tomatoes, although I am probably wrong and thought I would put the question to you.
      I take 100 mg of Allopurinol daily and that is working OK. I also started taking vitamin C but it caused me diahorrea and so I stopped that. If you could find the time I would be grateful if you could answer the question about tomatoes. Thank you.

      Kind regards

      Graham Feeney

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Graham!

        With tomatoes you have to watch out, many gout sufferers list it in their top 5 foods that can trigger a gout attack, so it does seem to affect many and we don’t know why exactly yet but there is a theory. Some recent news has brought this fact about tomatoes and I eat them occasionally. Also read my post on Gout and Tomatoes to learn more, I point to a recent study.

        Thanks for your question.

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