Can Tomato Sauce Cause Acid Reflux? Tomato Products And Heartburn

Certain food and food preparations may cause acid reflux, among them citric fruits and food containing citric acid is the frequent culprit. There may be individual idiosyncrasies about specific foods.

Acid reflux is a common gastrointestinal disorder. It is a leading cause for heartburn. There is burning sensation deep inside the chest, similar to what you might expect if you were to swallow a hot coal.  Along with burning there is oppressive tightening sensation.

The discomfort can extend from lower end of breastbone up to the throat. Acid reflux occurs when acid with remnant gastric content moves upwards if the lower esophageal valve is at fault.

Acid content will cause erosion of the internal lining of lower esophagus leading to burning sensation.

Why Do Tomato Products Cause Heartburn?

Tomato is one of the most important vegetable all over the world. It is considered to have unsurpassable nutritional and health promoting vitamin and nutrient value. However, even with such remarkable qualities, tomato is in spot light for its flip side. The high amount of acid in tomato may be responsible for heartburn in some individuals.

The acid taste of tomato is due to Malic acid. It also contains citric acid and trace of oxalic acid.

All the three can become triggering factor for heartburn and acid reflux. Tomato is one such citric food which is responsible to cause acid reflux symptoms.

Actually, stomach lining has cells which produce gastric acid. This acid is known as hydrochloric acid. Its main function is to breakdown the food that we ingest. It is a normal physiological process of the body. In majority of people the process of food digestion, with the aid of gastric acid surpasses without any hindrance. However, there are few hypersensitive individuals in whom tomato or tomato based ketchup and salads can trigger excess production of gastric acid once they are consumed.

When excess of acid in stomach flows back into the lower part of esophagus it causes irritation and burning sensation or heartburn. This is primarily important in people who already suffer from reflux esophagitis.

The pH of tomato whether it is ripe, cooked or canned are below 4. The acidity of ketchup is between 3.89 and 3.92. pH 7 is considered to be neutral while pH1 is considered to be very acidic. A pH above 7 is considered to be alkaline. The gastric acid pH is 1 to 4. Thus tomatoes having acidic pH increase the potential of gastric acid which is already present.

Since tomato sauce has become a favored topping in many dishes and some people do not relish their food without tomato sauce, baking soda has come to their rescue.  Adding some amount of baking soda to tomato sauce can reduce the chances of heartburn. But even after eating this prepared sauce, if you still complain of heartburn and acid reflux, the best solution is to avoid tomatoes altogether.

Food acidity range is as follows:

  • 0 to 3.6 pH is considered to be very acidic food.
  • 3.6 to 4.5 pH is considered to be moderate acidic food.
  • 4.5 pH and above is considered non acidic food and will not be a cause for heart burn.