It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Are seeds really a problem for those with diverticulitis?

Will you please give me some information on how to eat for diverticulitis - do I really have to 'seed' a can of tomatoes? Can I still be a spontaneous cook?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

canned and fresh tomatoes on a wooden board

There has been a lot of controversy about this in the past, but the most current research indicates that you don't need to worry about seeds.

For years doctors have told their patients with diverticulosis to not eat seeds, nuts, or foods that contain seeds, such as those found in tomatoes and cucumbers. Because those with diverticulosis have small out-pouchings of the colon, the theory has been that the seeds might become stuck in the small diverticula (pouches) and create a setting for infection.

There's never been any proof of this theory, however, and some recent research indicates that eating seeds is not a problem. The current guidelines no longer make this recommendation, and I do not for my patients.

The studies have shown that the only dietary change that will make a difference for those with diverticulosis is a high fiber diet (of course, this is the recommendation for all of us). Here's a list of the amounts of fiber in common foods for your reference.

Eat the tomatoes and do be a spontaneous cook again!

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet