Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

May 16
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Young tomato plant sprouting from the ground

Nightshade vegetables are one of the families of plants that get a lot of gossip thrown around about them. But what are they? Nightshade vegetables are the edible portions of some plants from the Solanaceae family.

These plants are known for their antioxidants and anti-inflamatory phytonutrients making their fruit a great addition to your regular diet. However, it is recommended that you avoid consuming their leaves.

Nightshade foliage often contains high concentrations of the alkaloid solanine. This is a substance within the leaves and stems that contains nitrogen. In nature it acts as a natural insect repellent protecting your plants from potential insect threats throughout the growing season.

Consuming these leaves would be dangerous as the concentration of alkaloids would cause severe reactions and may even be poisonous. However, because the fruits of these plants contain extremely little to no alkaloids with an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals they can be utilized in your everyday cooking.

Like all foods you can have varying levels of sensitivities and reactions to eating nightshade fruits. If you notice any swelling, numbing, hives, or other reactions occuring after eating any fruit or vegetable, nightshade or not, visit your healthcare provider. While nightshade fruits offer many health benefits, some people may need to avoid including them in their diets.

Some of the most common nightshade fruits and vegetables include Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Peppers, Eggplant, and potatoes. Of these, the only vegetable to produce any solanine are potatoes when they turn green in response to light reactions during growth. At this point the potatoes should be discarded and not eaten.

Some claims are made that nightshade fruits contribute to autoimmune diseases, however further research is needed for conclusions to these claims. For diet related advice tailored to you, schedule a visit with your local healthcare providers and dieticians.

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