Nothing says “healthy diet” like a big bunch of fruits and vegetables, but some people think that certain vegetables aren’t good for you. They argue that nightshade vegetables cause inflammation, which could lead to a host of other health problems. Are they right, or is it perfectly safe to grow and eat these plants? Get the lowdown of nightshade vegetables–what they mean for your diet and your garden.
What Are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshades are foods that belong to the Solanaceae family. They are high in solanine, which is a toxic compound. Nightshades can either be edible or highly toxic to humans. Most people associate the name with Atropa belladona, or Deadly Nightshade. However, you might be surprised at how many of your favorite veggies are members of this family.
Edible nightshades include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. These plants are high in nutrients like biotin, lycopene, fiber, potassium, and vitamin c. Some individual nightshades have other benefits like capsaicin, which can alleviate heartburn and help with weight loss.
Are Nightshades Bad for You?
The nightshade debate centers around glycoalkaloids, a group of chemicals that help nightshade plants protect against pathogens and predators. Some people believe that these compounds, especially solanine, can cause inflammation.
However, there is no scientific evidence that nightshades cause this inflammation or that they are dangerous to healthy people. The Arthritis Foundation says the claims that solanine aggravates inflammatory conditions like arthritis aren’t true.
In other words: Nightshades probably aren’t inherently unhealthy. But, like with all foods, some people can tolerate certain veggies more easily than others. That is likely the reason behind some people being more sensitive to eating these vegetables.
Symptoms of nightshade intolerance are said to be stomach issues, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. Some people might also experience signs of an allergic reaction such as coughing, wheezing, tightness in the throat, hives, or shortness of breath. If you suspect that you are sensitive to nightshades, avoid them for a few weeks to see if you feel better.
Should You Grow Nightshades?
The answer depends on if you have found that you are sensitive to nightshades. If you or a family member doesn’t feel well after eating these vegetables, avoid planting nightshades in the garden.
However, nightshade vegetables have lots of nutritional benefits, and they are relatively easy to grow. If you aren’t sensitive, these vegetables are excellent crops to grow for a wide variety of diets and culinary styles. Most people don’t need to avoid nightshades and can actually benefit from eating them.