Certain foods get a bad rap, including vegetables. The nightshade veggies, also known as Solanaceae, are a botanical family that comprise of a lot of popular vegetables.
These plants are called nightshades probably because many of them like growing in shady places and their flowers bloom at night. Unfortunately, if you search for “nightshade” you will see results that link them to several ailments, such as migraines and joint pains.
Popular diets even tell people to stay away from these vegetables because they are potentially poisonous and some say they are related to poison ivy.
Which Nightshades Can You Eat Safely?
Here are the nightshade species that are considered edible:
- Pottaoes: This is probably the most consumed member of the nightshade family. Note though that yams and sweet potatoes are not considered nightshades.
- Tomatoes: Many countries prepare their food with tomatoes, but they were once known to be poisonous. It is difficult to imagine spaghetti, ketchup, or pizza without tomatoes. Plus, they are quite healthy with vitamin C and lycopene.
- Eggplant: Although this is considered a vegetable, the eggplant is actually a berry and is therefore a fruit. Nevertheless, it is prepared like a vegetable. Primarily, it consists of water with carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Peppers: There are several varieties of peppers and most of them are edible. Bell, chili, and cayenne are all peppers and are considered nightshade plants. Despite the negative reputation, peppers contain vitamin C and are even studied for their potential to fight cancer.
- Tomatillos: These little fruits are often found in Mexican dishes. You can also find them in salsas and sauces.
- Goji Berries: This is now considered a superfood with its several health benefits. You can eat these berries raw or dried and you can also juice them.
Why are Nightshades Considered Dangerous?
Nightshades contain alkaloids, which are actually a way of the plants to protect themselves. There are safe alkaloids and some can be toxic. The primary type of alkaloid in these plants is solanine, which is present in the unripe fruits and vegetables. Solanine can have negative effects on the body, including:
- Interfering with enzyme production in muscle tissues
- Causing inflammation
- Increasing pain
- Causing stiffness, especially for people with rheumatoid arthritis
Should You Stop Eating Nightshades?
Most nightshade plants are nutritious. Also, in small doses, the alkaloids found in these veggies are not so dangerous. In fact, you have to eat a lot of nightshade plants to get the poisonous effects. Additionally, steaming, baking, and boiling the veggies can reduce the alkaloid content to half at the most. If you are sensitive to nightshade plants, you should stop eating them even the cooked ones as the remaining alkaloid content can still cause problems.