You may have heard of celebrities such as Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady avoiding nightshade vegetables in their attempts to live healthful lives. The theory is that plants belonging to the Solanaceae family (flowering plants) contain toxins which can damage our health. Fruit and vegetables such as tomato, chilli peppers, capsicum, eggplant and potato are thought to be members of this food group, more commonly named ‘nightshade’ vegetables.
The theory is based on the fact that poisonous berries called ‘nightshade’ are also in the Solanaceae family. However, many plants in the Solanaceae family are actually rich in nutrients and are the building blocks for some of the most healthy diets known to humans.
Lectins are the toxins in questions, and those who believe in the nightshade theory think lectins are responsible for things like cell damage, pain and arthritis. Why? Because lectins are proteins (stuff that meat is made of and already exists in many foods and humans) that have sugars attached to them and can bind cells together.
But cooking these foods actually breaks down the lectins, effectively removing the (questionable) risk of negative effects from the toxins. It’s important to remember that foods have different levels of these proteins, and items we could eat raw, such as tomato and capsicum, have significantly less than products like kidney beans, which need to be cooked before eating.
Another theory is that Nightshade foods contain solanine, a chemical which some people believe may aggravate arthritis pain or inflammation, but the American Arthritis Foundation have reported that this is not true.
When it comes down to it, there is very little research that supports theories of nightshades being bad for humans. In fact, nightshade vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre that are good for our health. In reality, you are more likely to experience a dairy, gluten or soy-related issue than you are a nightshade one. Medical News Today reported that Nightshades are nutritious, healthful foods and the idea that they cause inflammation is not supported by evidence.
The benefits of nightshades vegetables include:
- Eggplants are a good source of fibre, potassium and vitamins B-1, B-6 and K.
- Tomatoes are a great source of biotin, potassium, iron, zinc and antioxidants.
- Purple, white and yellow potatoes are a source of fibre, vitamins C and B-6.
- Capsicum is an excellent source for vitamins A and C, folic acid and potassium.
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