Vegetables

4 Myths About Nightshade Vegetables, Busted

A few popular diets recommend staying away from peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes. We disprove typical myths about nightshade vegetables.

Consider the vegetables known as nightshade or Solanaceae, a family of plants that includes peppers, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. (The term “nightshade” may have been created because some plants prefer shaded areas and blooms in the evening).  A search on the internet for “nightshade vegetables” yields results connecting them with various ailments ranging from migraines to arthritis. Naturopathic doctors often recommend that people living with arthritis avoid nightshades. Also, Patricia J. Wales, a naturopathic physician in Calgary, states that naturopaths might recommend that those suffering from osteoarthritis remove nightshades. They’re exempt from certain diet regimens. Doctor. Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss endorse Joshi’s Holistic Detox — claims nightshades are akin to poison ivy and may be harmful. “But poison ivy isn’t even in the same plant family,” Explains Barry Micallef, a plant biochemistry specialist at the University of Guelph.

What’s the reason for the negative reputation? Some people might consider that the nightshade vegetable is hazardous because they’re confused in the same way as “deadly nightshade” or Atropa belladonna, an inedible weed included in the Solanaceae family as Micallef explains. The deadly nightshade has been linked with witchcraft. If consumed in large quantities, it can trigger convulsions or even death. It has no connection with the plants. We’ll dispel the following myths:

Myth: Nightshades contribute to osteoporosis

Certain macrobiotic diets suggest that those who have health problems avoid the consumption of nightshade veggies, and even those who are healthy should often consume, according to Judy MacKenney, a counsellor at the Kushi Institute, a macrobiotic educational institution in Becket, Mass. “Nightshade vegetables are high in oxalic acid,” MacKenney claims, “Which inhibits the absorption of calcium and can weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis.” However, Stephanie Atkinson, a member of the scientific advisory panel for Osteoporosis Canada, explains that although oxalates have been proven to be able to bind calcium in the intestines and reduce the absorption of calcium, it happens just when the calcium levels are extremely low, and intakes of oxalate are very high. Nightshades aren’t high in Oxalic acid, says she. “The alkali that is produced by vegetables and fruits could benefit bones as they guard against the need for bones to fight blood acids.”

Myth: Nightshade vegetables contain a toxic alkaloid

Several alternative medicine websites suggest that nightshade plants contain a poisonous alkaloid compound known as solanine. It is a defence mechanism found in certain Solanaceae plants that defend against natural threats like insects. The chemical could indeed be present in potatoes that turn green when in contact with light throughout their growth, Micallef says. (That’s the reason why potatoes that have green spots must be removed. )

Contrary to what is reported, however, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, even the green ones, are not a source of solanine and are safe to consume, according to him.

Myth: Nightshade vegetables worsen arthritis pain

The majority of online debate is about the relationship between nightshade and arthritis and the belief that eating these veggies increases inflammation or pain. There is no evidence from a scientific perspective that support this theory. “I’m not aware of any studies in peer-reviewed journals that prove or disprove that they affect arthritis,” arthritis experts say, Mark Erwin, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Toronto. “There are a lot of references to it, but the evidence is mostly anecdotal.” As per Pamela Piotrowski, a registered dietitian for the Arthritis Society of Ontario, nothing proves it scientific reason to stay away from nightshades in the case of arthritis. “Many people have food intolerances. If you start to get achy whenever you eat tomatoes, it could be that, for you, tomatoes may be a factor.” Even you notice that your symptoms are decreasing after you stop eating tomatoes, it’s difficult to determine the reason since various aspects can contribute to arthritis.

Myth: They can cause migraines

According to Dr Jonathan Gladstone, director of the Gladstone Headache Clinic and director of neurology at Cleveland Clinic Canada in Toronto, the link between nightshades and migraines is also not valid. “I am sure that headache experts internationally would agree that there is no proof that tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes induce migraines,” the doctor states.

The beneficial health effects of the nightshade vegetable “far outweigh any risks,” Piotrowski says. Tomatoes and peppers are fantastic antioxidants, which reduce the risk of developing cancer and heart diseases; potatoes are rich in Vitamin C as well as eggplant, an excellent food source for vitamin K. They’re all high in fibre. If you are looking to get rid of them, be sure to get the nutritional value of these food items.

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