Tomatine Poison in Tomatoes

Tomato has tomatine. What is tomatine then? It is a poison. It belongs to group of glycoalkaloid poisons – glyco means sugar. Taste bitter, potentially toxic and cause bitter irritation on back of mouth and sides of tongue. Poisonous substances is likely to cause fatality if sufficient amount is ingested.

red ripe tomato

Tomatine has some suspected side effects like digestion difficulty when mixed with spice foods and arthritic pains.

It is poison, has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Amounts in leaves and stems are significantly larger than in fruits. Explains why I rarely see an infested tomato stems and leaves. However, some bacteria are able to produce tomatinase to render tomatine ineffective and successfully invade the plant.

Tomato is popular for its lycopene. The issue about tomatine is a completely opposite subject matter. Lycopene is beneficial while the latter is harmful.  Should we stop eating this ripe and succulent fruit?

There is nothing to worry about. It was mentioned above. The amount of poison in fruit is less. Poison content of green tomato is so little to cause harm. Ripening makes the quantity even smaller.

There was no recorded tomatine poisoning in history. Solanine poisoning from eating greened potatoes is more likely. Cassava cyanide poisoning far more dangerous. Other suspected side effects such as digestion difficulty and arthritic pain have a very low chances of occurrence.

Tomato leaves and stems are more potent. I could not find information how potent it is though. Those parts have unpleasant smell and equipped with numerous thin fragile thorns. No one will attempt to eat, human or animals.


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  • […] plants, and it is poisonous if ingested in large enough quantities. (You can read about it here or here, and there a number of other sites out there that describe its properties as […]

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