Tomatoes and Diabetes

Tomatoes and Diabetes
Glycemic index:


Calories per 100 g:

26 kcal

As anyone with diabetes, type 1 or type 2, will be able to tell you, managing the condition and blood sugar levels from day to day has a lot to do with the various medications that you take, but it also has a lot to do with the food you eat and the diet you maintain.

While type I diabetes is mostly congenital or acquired as a result of other medical conditions, type 2 diabetes tends to be a condition that develops as the result of lifestyle choices and is most commonly due to obesity. The body's ability to break down sugars into glucose and use them in their intended ways becomes compromised, and the inability to deal with these glucose levels inevitably leads to high blood sugar levels within the body.

Although there is some synergy between the two types, management of type I is mostly governed by prescribed insulin. Although some type II diabetics will be required to administer insulin, management is much more about medication, exercise and diet.

Type II diabetics can do a lot of good work for themselves by committing to getting healthier through plenty of exercise and switching to a diet filled with healthy foods. A 'diabetes diet', as it were, should consist of foods that are recommended by experts and are a rich source of vitamins and nutrients. The better your meal plan for each day, the better your diabetes management will be.

With all of this in mind, let's take a look at one specific type of food that, if added as a part of a daily diet, can have great impact not only on your diabetes but also on things like your weight and overall fitness too. We are talking about fresh tomatoes and tomato juice! How do diabetes and tomatoes react? Let's find out.

Nutritional value

  • Protein 1.08 g
  • Carbohydrate 4.82 g
  • Fat 0.25 g
  • Fiber 1.5 g
  • Sugar 3.23 g
  • Cholesterol 0 g

Are Tomatoes and Tomato-Based Products Good For Diabetes?

Tomatoes often get a bad rap within the diabetes diet community because they are deemed to have too much sugar in them. Of course, any food that is accused of this might not be the best idea when you are trying to control your blood sugar and blood glucose levels, but this over-sugariness is something of a myth.

Alongside raw tomato, carrots are also a vegetable that some people accuse of having too much sugar for a diabetic healthy diet, but the truth of the matter is that the low amount of natural sugar that is found in both carrots and any type of tomatoes from grape tomatoes to cherry tomatoes to plain old tomato juice is not something that should be considered unhealthy.

Tomatoes have a glycemic index of 15 which makes them a low Gi food. Any food with a Gi score of less than 55 is deemed as good for diabetics. So eating tomatoes is good for you! Any low Gi food releases its sugars slowly into the bloodstream so is unlikely to trigger a blood sugar spike.

For inclusion in a diabetes diet meal plan, plain tomatoes should be considered non-starchy foods. What this means is that the amount of natural sugar found in tomatoes is minimal. One cup of tomato when eaten raw contains around 2 grams of sugar and 4 grams of total carbohydrates.

This is favorable compared to other popular vegetables like corn, peas and beans. In many ways, eating tomatoes can be seen as an intake of a diabetic superfood. Non starchy foods and non starchy vegetables are important when you are trying to control your blood sugar, blood pressure, reduce cardiovascular risk, reduce intake of refined carbohydrates, prevent heart disease and maintain your diabetic health.

It isn't all plain sailing though. Not all tomato products are good for diabetics. You need to be careful of processed tomato foods like ketchup or jarred sauces like marinara. This also applies to other tomato based products and other foods containing tomato sauce like ready meals such as lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese and even some pizza. Processed products have added sugar that can be harmful to diabetics.

Be sure to always read the label because the more sugar a product contains, the more at risk you are going to be of raising your blood glucose levels and blood pressure. As a diabetic, you should be aware that sugar isn't always listed as sugar in an ingredients list. There are 56 different names for sugar!

Eating tomatoes from a raw state that you have prepared yourself, rather than a tomato sauce that has been overly processed, is the much better decision to make. It will help you to keep a healthy diet that you have more control over, and diabetes management is all about knowing exactly what you are putting into your body via meal planning.

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Why Are Tomatoes Good For A Diabetes Diet?

It goes without saying that you should always seek professional medical advice from a doctor or registered dietitian before starting a new diet.

Diets and their health benefits can vary for each individual patient, and just because certain fruits, salads and perceived healthy foods work for some people, they might not work for everyone.

Tomatoes offer a whole host of benefits, with some of the best for diabetic people including:

  • They are rich in lycopene. Lycopene is the ingredient that gives the tomato its striking red color and is a powerful antioxidant. Among its main benefits to health, it helps to prevent macular degeneration which is a big cause for concern in diabetics.

  • Tomatoes are low in carbohydrates and low in fats. Refined carbs are one of the main offenders when it comes to causing spikes in blood sugar. Blood sugars can be very sensitive, so staying away from foods that are too high in refined carbs is a sensible way to make sure that your own blood sugar levels are healthy.

  • Tomatoes also contain a good proportion of fiber. This is good for helping you to feel fuller for longer so you can eat less overall. Add whole grains and fresh vegetables like spinach with some lean protein and not only do you have a vitamin-rich meal but one that satisfies a hearty appetite.

  • Other essential nutrients in tomatoes are vitamin c, vitamin k, potassium and folate (vitamin B9).

  • When eaten fresh or perhaps cooked with a little bit of olive oil, tomatoes are very low in calories, and this not only helps with the particulars of your diabetes diet, but also with any efforts to lose weight. Weight loss is a big recommendation for most people with type 2 diabetes, and you can easily change your relationship with food by the odd healthy substitute here and there.

Final Thoughts On Tomato Consumption And Diabetes

Ultimately, it is clear to see from what we have explained that the relationship between tomatoes, diabetes type 2, blood sugar levels and weight management can be a very productive one if you follow the right diet advice.

Diabetes and tomatoes can be a partnership that helps you to get your blood sugar levels under more control than before, and if y0u add in even more vitamin C, vegetables, salads, fruit, spinach and overall nutrition to your daily eating habits, you will soon find that your doctor thinks you are much lower risk of several of the complications that untreated and unchecked diabetes can have.

Diabetes management is something that you have to be involved with every single day, and for sake of your health and your body, make sure that your blood sugar levels stay within a good range. Tomatoes can be a helping factor in this daily diet battle.

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