Tomatoes often get a bad rap for having “too much sugar.” I hear this myth often in my diabetes education practice. Carrots are another vegetable that seem to suffer the same reputation. Tomatoes are not high in sugar, and neither are carrots.
Tomatoes, similar to carrots, are considered a non-starchy vegetable in meal planning for diabetes. This means that the amount of naturally occurring sugar is minimal in a serving. A non-starchy vegetable serving is ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw and contains approximately 2 grams of sugar and 4 grams of total carbohydrates (the amount of starches and sugars added together).
How does this compare to fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas and beans? A serving of a fruit or starchy vegetable, such as a small apple or ½ cup of beans, contains about 2 to 15 grams of sugar and 15 grams of total carbohydrates. In other words, non-starchy vegetables like tomatoes contain less sugar and carbohydrates.
The total amount of carbohydrates in food affects glucose levels in people with diabetes. The bottom line is that tomatoes are not high in total carbohydrates or sugar and are an excellent source of B vitamins like folate, and vitamins A, C, E and K. Non-starchy vegetables of all shapes, taste, and colors are a valuable part of meal planning for people with and without diabetes.
Meeting with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you get specific recommendations for meal-time amounts of total carbohydrates.