What are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshades, technically known as Solanaceae, are a botanical family of plants. They all have a similar shape of their flowers and the way their seeds are arranged in the fruits that they produce. While there are many plants in this species (more than 2000) only a small percentage of them are edible. Some of them are quite poisonous, including nightshade, which is deadly. Tobacco is another nightshade plant, which is linked to a wide range of different health problems.
Even the nightshades that are edible can have some unwanted health effects associated with them. People who struggle with autoimmune conditions, for example, can have adverse reactions from these foods. For most people, they can be an excellent source of essential nutrients while tasting great.
Examples of Nightshade Vegetables
The following is a list of the edible nightshade vegetables. There are multiple varieties of many of these veggies, so keep that in mind. Whether you are trying to avoid them or add them to your diet, it is a good idea to be aware of this list.
- Hot Peppers (including chili peppers, habaneros, jalapenos, etc.)
- Goji Berries
- Garden Huckleberry
- Cape Gooseberry
- Bush Tomato
- Bell Peppers
Many of these are going to be quite familiar to most people, and others you may not have heard of. This family of vegetables is quite interesting in how it can have dramatically different impacts on individuals depending on their sensitivity.
Why are Some Nightshades Toxic
Nightshades are toxic because they produce certain chemical compounds that help to keep mold, bugs, and even some small animals from eating them. This is a natural defense mechanism that has allowed them to thrive in many areas. By keeping the bugs at bay, the plants can grow bigger and stronger, which allows them to have their seeds spread to more areas.
The toxic compounds in the inedible plants are so strong that they can cause illness or even death in humans. For those edible nightshades, the toxic compounds are not concentrated enough to do a lot of harm to most people. Also, the toxins are found in the highest concentration in the leaves and stems of the plants. Bugs typically love eating these parts of most plants, so this makes sense. Humans, on the other hand, usually do not consume this part of the plant, so we do not have to worry about a thing.
Strong Anti-Inflammatory (Or Very Toxic)
Capsaicin is a chemical compound found in many nightshade vegetables (especially hot peppers) that can cause certain people many problems. For those with a healthy immune system, the irritation that it causes is a very beneficial thing. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory, and keeping inflammation down is essential for long-term health. In fact, capsaicin works in a very similar way to antioxidants in most people’s bodies.
Should You Consume Nightshades?
When learning about these vegetables, many people are tempted just to eliminate them from their diet altogether. There is a time when this is a smart choice, such as when you have an adverse reaction to eating them, or you are trying to identify the source of a health concern. For most people, there is no reason to try to cut these delicious vegetables out.
They provide lots of vitamins and other nutrients that people need. While other foods could certainly replace the nutrients, no scientific data suggests this is necessary for most people. Another reason why you likely shouldn’t eliminate nightshades from your diet is that it is tough to do so.
Cutting out the whole vegetables would not be too hard, but when you start looking at the ingredient lists of many foods, you will see that nightshade are very common. Almost any food that has any kick to it is going to get that flavor profile from hot peppers (nightshades). Many types of mixed spices will contain paprika, another nightshade. This is a very popular class of food, so unless there is a particular reason, it does not make sense to attempt to eliminate it from your diet.