Can you eat sprouted tomatoes?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat sprouted tomatoes?” and discuss what are the possible health effects of eating sprouted tomatoes.

Can you eat sprouted tomatoes?

Yes, you can eat sprouted tomatoes. Tomatoes and their sprouts are perfectly fine to consume if the tomato is whole and shows no indications of rotting or other damage. 

However, according to studies, sprouting of seeds inside the fruit leads to losses in yield, viability, nutritional quality and palatability of fruits and seeds (4).

An image of sprouted tomatoes are given below:

What are the health benefits of eating sprouted tomatoes?

The health benefits of eating sprouted tomatoes are similar to the ones of eating regular tomatoes. 

Tomatoes provide several health benefits and these are present also in sprouted tomatoes, except that they may be reduced, as the early sprouting of seeds inside the tomatoes result in lower levels of carotenoids in the tomatoes (7).

The carotenoids in tomatoes, especially lycopene, have great antioxidant potentials. Antioxidants that can mitigate the damaging effects caused by reactive oxygen species, which induce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress, as a result from diet, exercises, exposure to the environment and pollution, are thought to be the cause of several chronic diseases. 

Carotenoids have been proven to be protective against many types of cancers. According to studies, carotenoids prevent eye damage (2).

The ingestion of carotenoids are also related to reduced risks of cardiovascular diseases. In a study, lycopene was shown to reduce serum total cholesterol levels and thereby lowering the risk of CVD (1). 

What are the health risks of eating sprouted tomatoes?

The health risks of eating sprouted tomatoes are similar to the ones of eating regular tomatoes, as early sprouting of the seeds inside the fruit does not present any specific health risk.

The possible risks of consuming tomatoes are summarized below (8):

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (heartburn), due to the high amount of acids 
  • Allergies, due to the presence of possible allergens in tomatoes
  • Kidney problems,due to the high potassium and oxalate concentrations
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, in the case of a high amount consumption of skin and seeds of tomato
  • Urinary problems, due to the levels of organic acids
  • Body aches, arthritis, due to the presence of Glycoalkaloids (tomatine and solanine)

What causes the germination of tomato seeds?

A hormone known as abscisic acid stimulates the growth, ripening, and senescence, and it interacts with ethylene and other fruit hormones on fruit ripening in synergy, which is determinant of fruit growth and ripening. This hormone is required to maintain seed dormancy and inhibit germination in many plants, including tomatoes (4,5).

The decrease in abscisic acid concentration leads the seeds to go from dormant to active. The reduction may be caused by genetic alterations or by viruses. Activated seeds produce sprouts known as vivipary, which begin to develop as the seeds mature (4,5).

Another explanation is that high nitrogen fertilizer rates and high temperatures increased the sprouting of seeds in tests with tomato fruits grown in the greenhouse. In field fertility plots, data from high nitrogen treatments indicated similar trends. 

These field plots also showed that degree of ripeness is a very important factor in the severity of the disorder. The ripening rate (maturation and senescence) of fruits is influenced by temperature. According to studies,  the longer fruits of these varieties remain ripe on the vine, the greater is this possibility of finding sprouted seeds (3).

Germination or sprouting may also be caused by excessive temperatures or dampness, potassium shortage, or nitrogen overfertilization..

What can be done to prevent tomatoes from sprouting?

Store the tomatoes at room temperature once they’ve been harvested. Keep them out of direct sunshine, but allow enough air movement to aid in ripening and preserving their health. 

To avoid sprouting, put the tomatoes in a cool, dark spot away from direct sunlight. Tomatoes should not be kept in the fridge. Tomato fruits stored in the refrigerator may also be more likely to show precocious germination since cold temperatures also reduce seed dormancy (6).

Use your tomatoes as soon as you can after purchasing or harvesting them. Tomatoes have a higher likelihood of sprouting if left to mature or stored for longer periods in the refrigerator. On the other hand, tomatoes may be sprouted in the field. In this case, sprouted seeds can be seen only when the fruit is opened and the seed cavity is exposed (3).

Other FAQs about Tomatoes that you may be interested in.

7 ways to preserve tomatoes

How to store homemade tomato sauce?

Are tomatoes acidic?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat sprouted tomatoes?” and we discussed what are the possible health effects of eating sprouted tomatoes.


  1. Rao, A. Venket, and Leticia G. Rao. Carotenoids and human health. Pharmacol res, 2007, 55, 207-216.
  2. Nassarawa, Sanusi Shamsudeen, and Salamatu Ahmad Sulaiman. Extending the shelf life of tomato and onion in Nigeria: A review. Int J Food Sci Nutr, 2019, 4, 99-111.  
  3. Yamaguchi, M., et al. Seed sprouting in canning tomato fruit. California Agriculture, 1967, 11-12.
  4. Yao, Mengqin, et al. METHYLTRANSFERASE1 and ripening modulate vivipary during tomato fruit development. Plant physiol, 2020, 183, 1883-1897.  
  5. Gupta, Kapil, et al. Abscisic acid: Role in fruit development and ripening. Front Plant Sci, 2022, 13, 856.
  6. Hugo Cota-Sánchez, J. Precocious germination (vivipary) in tomato: a link to economic loss?. Proceed Nat Acad Sci India Biol Sci, 2018, 88, 1443-1451.
  7. Lindgren, L. Ove, Kjell G. Stålberg, and Anna-Stina Hoglund. Seed-specific overexpression of an endogenous Arabidopsis phytoene synthase gene results in delayed germination and increased levels of carotenoids, chlorophyll, and abscisic acid. Plant physiol, 2003, 132, 779-785.
  8. Salehi, Bahare, et al. Beneficial effects and potential risks of tomato consumption for human health: An overview. Nutrition, 2019, 62, 201-208.