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Carbs in Tomatoes – The Hidden Secret

Carbs in Tomatoes

When was the last time you ate a tomato and thought about the carbs? You mightn’t automatically assume that tomatoes are a low carb food of the carbs in tomatoes are relatively low. With the right planning, tomatoes can be included in a keto or a low carb diet.

Tomatoes are also a great addition to meals. They’re low in calories and bursting with flavor. This makes them perfect as an ingredient in salads and entrees. You can also include tomatoes instead of higher carb alternatives, particularly in snacks.

Read on to learn more about how tomatoes fit into various diet types – and how to take full advantage of them.

How Many Carbs in Tomatoes?

Tomatoes only contain 3.9 grams of carbs per 100 grams (2.7 grams of net carbs) (1). This alone makes them suitable for low carb and keto diets.

Besides, you mightn’t be eating 100 grams of tomatoes. Some recipes will end up using less than that per serving.

The carb content does vary between types of tomato – but not dramatically. The table below highlights some of those differences. However, most of the variation comes from serving size, not tomato type.

Swipe left to see more columns

Red Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

Serving Size

Calories

16.4

3

18

Total Fat

0.2 g

0.03 g

0.3 g

Carbs

3.6 g

0.67 g

3.5 g

Sugars

2.4 g

0.45 g

2 g

Fiber

1.1 g

0.2 g

0.5 g

Net Carbs

2.5 g

0.47 g

3 g

Protein

0.8 g

0.15 g

0.5 g

The carbohydrates in tomatoes are similar regardless of the type that you choose

5 Benefits of Tomatoes

Bowl of tomatoes

Tomatoes have so many advantages, no matter which diet approach you’re following.

  • They’re delicious. Tomatoes simply taste wonderful. Although they're technically considered a fruit, they easily complement a salad. They have a touch of sweetness and sharpness, along with a rich flavor that other fruits don’t offer.
  • There are plenty of types. There are many varieties and cultivars of tomato. They come in many different sizes and colors. These can have different textures and flavors. For example, cherry tomatoes are often sweeter, making them popular among kids. Some varieties are also meatier, which has interesting implications for cooking.
  • They’re versatile. Tomatoes make their way into many different recipes. You’ll find them in cooked and raw foods, including salads, tomato sauces, soups, meat-based dishes and many more.
  • They’re easy to find. Tomatoes are common at every grocery store or farmers market. You’ll normally find multiple types and tomatoes will often be inexpensive.
  • They have health benefits. Tomatoes contain various important nutrients and antioxidants, including vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A. The compound lycopene is also present, which may decrease prostate cancer risk and protect against heart disease (2,3).
  • Tomatoes taste better with age. Have you ever had left over spaghetti and tomato sauce and thought to yourself: dam this taste good. It's the tomato! It's been proven that tomatoes enhances the flavor of food over time. Unless you let it spoil... 

You can increase the health advantages of tomatoes by cooking them with olive oil. This increases the levels of lycopene (4). Olive oil has its own health benefits too.

Tomatoes offer various practical and health-related advantages

Small Tomato Nutrition

Tomatoes offer a number of beneficial nutrients, as the table below shows.

Nutrition Facts: 1 Small Whole Tomato (​91 grams)

Amount

Calories

16.4

Total Fat

0.2 g

Carbs

3.6 g

Sugar

2.4 g

Fiber

1.1 g

Net Carbs

2.5 g

Protein

0.8 g 

Vitamin C

11.6 mg (19% DV)

Vitamin A

758 IU (15% DV)

Vitamin K

7.2 mcg (9% DV)

Potassium

216 mg (6% DV)

The nutrients all play a role in your overall health – and the amount you get from different sources adds up quickly.

Tomatoes provide various nutrients that can promote health

Is a Tomato Keto Friendly?

Bowl of tomatoes

Tomatoes are often included on keto food lists, especially as they are non-starchy.

One of their biggest advantages is the flavor. You’ll often find tomatoes included in sauce recipes or added to a dish to improve the taste. These approaches work particularly well, as you often won’t be using many tomatoes at a time.

However, you do need to moderate your tomato intake. The carbs in tomato can add up quickly and you normally only get around 20 grams of net carbs per day on keto.

This means that a small tomato per day might be viable, but you couldn’t consume multiple tomatoes each day. As Martina from KetoDiet Blog mentions, tomatoes should be considered an occasional keto food.

As always, the suitability of tomatoes will depend on your specific needs. Keto dieters will vary in their macronutrient goals and their overall calorie intakes. Those factors, along with your diet as a whole, will influence how regularly you can eat tomatoes.

Keto Tomato Recipes

There are many interesting recipes out there. The following are particularly good ones to try.

You can easily include tomatoes on a keto diet, if you don’t have too many

Can You Eat Tomatoes on a Low Carb Diet?

The net carbs in tomatoes mean that tomatoes are a sometimes food on a keto diet. But, on a less strict low carb diet, you can eat tomatoes more often.

Some grocery stores also stock low carb tomato sauces. This can be easier and faster than making your own. The right brand may be suitable for keto too. Just make sure you read the labels carefully.

Here are a few interesting ones to try:

You can also make your own, like in the video below.

Low Carb Tomato Recipes

The recipes below are all low carb options that you can try. Their suitability will depend on your goals, including the number of carbs that you’re aiming for.

A general low carb diet offers more flexibility than keto and may let you eat tomatoes more often

Other Diets and Tomatoes

Caprese salad

Tomatoes are a whole food that doesn’t go through any processing. So, they’re perfect for many other types of diet.

This means you can include tomatoes in any whole foods-based diet. They’re also powerful for raw food approaches, as tomatoes are an effective way to add flavor.

The Mediterranean diet also heavily relies on tomatoes as an ingredient.

You can also use tomatoes to decrease carb or calorie intake, by using them as alternate ingredients or snacks. For example:

  • Try cherry tomatoes as a fast and easy snack, rather than chips or fruit.
  • Consider a Caprese salad rather than a sandwich. Serious Eats has some fantastic tips for making a perfect Caprese salad every time.
  • Use tomato-based sauces for pasta, rather than ones that are heavy in cream or fat.

When Tomatoes Aren’t Suitable

Tomatoes work well on most diets. But, they are nightshades (along with eggplants, peppers and potatoes).

People with an autoimmune condition, food sensitivity or food allergy may be sensitive to nightshades. Cutting them out can sometimes help to improve any related illness.

Reactions to nightshades can include migraines, digestive upset and joint pain.

For anyone avoiding tomatoes, a combination of mashed and cooked zucchini and vinegar can mimic the flavor of tomatoes. The texture is even surprisingly similar.

Because of this, many elimination diets don’t allow tomatoes in some stages.

  • For example, Chloe from How We Flourish talks about the inclusion of nightshades in the GAPS diet and why it might be best to exclude them.
  • The AIP diet also eliminates tomatoes.
  • Some authors argue that tomatoes should be avoided on a paleo diet too because of the potential negative impacts. But, most paleo food lists (like this one) do include tomatoes.
  • Other people choose to avoid nightshades because they are sensitive to them, even if their diet doesn’t call for that decision.

The site Ruled.me offers additional details about what nightshades are and why they may be significant.

Tomatoes are powerful in most diets. But, they may not be viable for anyone sensitive to nightshades

Other Low Carb Fruits and Vegetables

Avocado

Tomatoes are one example of a low carb vegetable (or fruit). But, there are plenty of other low carb options too.

Any low carb or keto diet will need to rely on a range of options. Doing so gives you the optimal combination of nutrients and flavors. Besides, the best recipes use many different plant-based ingredients to create complex and nuanced flavors.

Are Tomatoes a Vegetable or a Fruit?

From the botanical perspective, tomatoes are actually fruits, not vegetables (the same is true for avocados). But, we tend to consume them as vegetables. Tomatoes are also different from most other fruits. They tend to have a lower amount of sugar and have a tarter flavor.

Some other popular examples of low carb plant-based options include the following (numbers are net carbs per 100 grams):

There are many other low carb fruits and vegetables. These often complement the flavors of tomatoes

Final Thoughts

Tomatoes are low in carbs and a great choice on many diets. The flavor alone makes them worth eating regularly. There are also countless recipes that rely on them, including some very creative options.

What are your favorites?

Turmeric Smoothie

Want to Improve Your Health?

Turmeric Smoothie

Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use. 

Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started. 

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3 thoughts on “Carbs in Tomatoes – The Hidden Secret”

  1. We love all kinds of tomatoes, but our favorites are the darker colored heritage verities. This year we’re growing Speckled Romans and Cherokee Purples. Both are so rich in flavor.

    Reply
  2. Before I came across with this article, I really don’t think about tomatoes having nutrition qualities or not only I causually include it in my diet. Thank you for sharing the info about this.

    Reply

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