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Is It Safe to Eat Tomato Sprouts?

Sonal Panse
Sonal Panse

Discover the surprising phenomenon of tomatoes sprouting inside, a rare but natural occurrence. According to a study by the Chicago Botanic Garden, the gel surrounding tomato seeds typically contains natural inhibitors that prevent germination until the seeds are in an ideal environment. However, under certain conditions, such as temperature fluctuations, these seeds can defy the odds and sprout within the fruit itself. While this might seem alarming, University of Connecticut reassures that tomatoes with internal sprouting, also known as vivipary, are generally safe to eat, provided the tomato is otherwise in good condition. This introduction to tomatoes sprouting inside focuses on the safety and science behind this curious botanical event, offering readers a clear understanding of when and why it happens.

These tomato sprouts, along with tomato leaves and stems, have, for most part, been eschewed in cooking. Some cooks have successfully used them to add a distinctive tomato flavor to sauces and some other tomato dishes, but it should be noted that, in these cases, the stems and leaves are simmered for flavoring and are then removed; they are not eaten. The reason for this is that tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants. The leaves, stems and unripe fruits of many plants from this family are known to have toxic properties, and can cause health problems if they are eaten.

Tomato sprouts are unlikely to make a person sick, but they are generally best avoided.
Tomato sprouts are unlikely to make a person sick, but they are generally best avoided.

A glyco-alkaloid known as tomatine is present in unripe tomatoes as well as in the leaves and stem of the tomato plant. The tomatine alkaloid has been known to adversely affect the nervous system and to cause irritation of the gastric intestine. Some people also get allergic reactions by merely touching the tomato leaves, and, in the case of animals, particularly dogs, eating tomato plants can sometimes prove fatal.

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, as do eggplants and potatoes.
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, as do eggplants and potatoes.

On the other hand, unripe tomatoes have long been used in many food recipes without anyone coming to harm. Many people have also eaten sprouted tomatoes without any apparent ill effect. Lab experiments with animals have shown that tomatine is not absorbed by the body, but is expelled along with unwanted cholesterol. Tomatine has also been found to have strong anti-microbial properties and to have a deterrent effect on the growth of cancer cells.

It seems then that in small amounts, tomatine is safe to eat. It would take a large quantity of tomato sprouts, leaves and stems to give a human a toxic dose; eating one or two is not likely to cause any kind of health issues. Still, if there are any doubts or if there are any allergy issues, it might be advisable to avoid eating sprouted tomatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are tomato sprouts safe to eat?

Tomato sprouts are really edible. They may be eaten both raw and cooked, and they have a mild, sweet taste. For added nourishment, you may add them to salads, soups, and other foods. Tomato sprouts are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also include a lot of dietary fiber, which helps support healthy digestion and lower the chance of developing certain health problems.

Do tomato sprouts have any health benefits?

Yes, eating tomato sprouts is good for your health. They are rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium as well as vitamins A, C, and K. Additionally, they are a fantastic source of dietary fiber, which helps support good digestion and lower the risk of developing certain ailments. Tomato sprouts also include a lot of antioxidants, which may help shield the body from free radical damage and lower the chance of developing chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

Are tomato sprouts safe to eat?

Tomato sprouts may be eaten without risk. You may eat them raw or cooked, and they are a healthy and nourishing meal. They are a great source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The fact that certain individuals may be allergic to tomato sprouts and should avoid eating them must be kept in mind.

Can tomato sprouts be grown in a home environment?

Tomato sprouts are simple to cultivate and need little attention. When cultivating tomato seedlings at home, safety measures must be taken. To stop the spread of illness, tomato seedlings should be maintained in a sterile environment and kept apart from other plants. Additionally, gloves must be used while touching tomato seedlings, and following handling, hands must be properly washed.

Can you eat tomato sprouts without running any risks?

Tomato sprout consumption carries solely the hazards associated with food allergies. Before eating tomato sprouts, it is important to be aware of any possible food sensitivities. When cultivating tomato sprouts at home, it's also important to exercise care and fully wash your hands after touching them.

Discussion Comments


It wasn't birth control pills that led to birth defects. They're perfectly safe. It was thalidomide which was used to prevent morning sickness that caused those defects.

If you need birth control pills, use them without fear!


Also on the other hand, another compound found in high doses of the stem, leaves and green tomato, is tomatidine, which has been shown to have huge muscle sparing and growth benefits.


I remember women taking birth control pills, with no problem, well, until the baby was born with no arms, legs, etc. I remember Gov. giving the OK to insulation and everyone had to remove some years later for health reasons.

No one is mentioning Monsanto!


I have eaten tomato sprouts before both plain and in recipes and I have never had any problems. In fact, I had never once considered them dangerous. I figure that they are a natural part of the tomato which I would eat anyway so why not gobble down the sprouts as well?

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    • Tomato sprouts are unlikely to make a person sick, but they are generally best avoided.
      By: martinlee
      Tomato sprouts are unlikely to make a person sick, but they are generally best avoided.
    • Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, as do eggplants and potatoes.
      By: Konstiantyn
      Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, as do eggplants and potatoes.