Nightshades: Are These Health Foods Wreaking Havoc on Your Body?

Nightshades: Are These Health Foods Wreaking Havoc On Your Body?

( – We tend to view vegetables and fruits as healthy foods. Piling bright red tomatoes, brilliantly purple eggplants, and gorgeously green peppers into our supermarket carts, we may feel virtuous as we plan our vitamin-packed meals. But are all vegetables and fruits healthy for everybody?

Discover what you should know about the food category now known as “nightshades” below.

What Are Nightshades?

Nightshades consist of vegetables and fruits from plants in the Solanaceae category. The term “nightshades” may result from certain plants’ former use as hallucinogens. Nightshade vegetables and fruits are available in every grocery store and may even be in our own homes right now.

Nightshades include:

  • Eggplants
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes

Some spices and condiments are made with nightshades. Salsa, ketchup, hot sauce, chili powder, paprika, and crushed red pepper all contain nightshades. Although these vegetables, fruits, spices, and condiments may have health benefits, some experts recommend that individuals with certain conditions substitute other foods for nightshades.

Who Should Avoid Nightshades?

Before we toss our tomatoes in the trash, it’s helpful to understand who may want to avoid nightshades. Our bodies react in different ways to certain foods. And that’s where the issue with nightshades comes into play. Nightshades contain alkaloids. The particular alkaloid in nightshades is known as solanine, which some health experts think may result in inflammation. Therefore, these specialists recommend avoiding nightshades for those with autoimmune diseases or an inflammatory ailment. They believe that nightshades may increase inflammation symptoms in individuals with conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and arthritis.

There are other reasons we may want to avoid nightshades. For example, some individuals are allergic or sensitive to solanine. Symptoms may result in itching, hives, skin rashes, or even nausea after eating nightshade foods. Also, we may want to minimize our tomato consumption if we tend to get acid reflux. The citric and malic acids in tomatoes may cause stomach acidity, increasing our tendency to develop heartburn or reflux.

What Can We Substitute for Nightshades?

Nightshade fruits and vegetables are valuable sources of many vitamins and minerals. If we have a reason for avoiding these foods, it’s important to substitute healthy alternatives.

  • Tomato substitute: Consider using beets in place of tomatoes for colorful sauces.
  • Potato Substitute: Use sweet potatoes, which are not nightshades, rather than white potatoes.
  • Eggplant Substitute:
  • Swap zucchini for eggplant in recipes.
  • Pepper Substitute: Experiment with broccoli or summer squash.

Not sure whether to avoid nightshades? Talk with your healthcare provider or a dietitian for advice. If you get the green light on green pepper, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes, enjoy your feast full of vitamins and minerals.

~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!

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