Many people are aware of the nightshade family of plants, proper name Solanaceae, but lesser known is the fact that some of the more widely consumed fruit and vegetables are of this family. The Solanaceae family is a vast one by botanical standards, containing around 2000 species which vary from tiny ground plants, through shrubs, vines and up to small tree types. In almost all examples of plants of this family some part is poisonous. In some cases this may be the leaves while in others it is the fruit or berries.
List of Nightshade Vegetables
The following is a list of nightshade family vegetables and fruits:
- Eggplant or aubergine
- Chillis or hot peppers, including pimento
- Capsicums or sweet peppers
- Garden huckleberry
- Paprika, cayenne, Tabasco sauce or any other seasoning made
from one of the above
Are Nightshade Vegetables Bad for You?
Edible plants of the nightshade family contain an alkaloid agent called solanine which is toxic to humans even in quite small amounts. Solanine is a part of the plant’s natural defense system against insect infestation and disease or to discourage animals from eating it; put more simply it contains fungicides and pesticides.
One of the greatest risks comes from the humble potato and is one of the most common causes of solanine poisoning in humans. Green potatoes particularly are indicative of increased solanine content and should always be avoided.
Symptoms of Solanine Poisoning from Consuming Nightshade Veggies
The most common symptoms of solanine poisoning are gastric upsets (gastric reflux disease may be indicated here), diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Headaches, dizziness and throat burn can also be experienced. In more severe cases the sufferer may react with fever, jaundice, cardiac dysrhythmia (which means the heart may beat too fast or slow or experience irregularity of some kind), hallucinations.
There is some controversy over whether tomatoes have the same toxic properties but it seems to be more widely accepted that the alkaloid found present here is somewhat more benign.
Nightshade Vegetables and Arthritis
There has also been much discussion over the links between arthritis and nightshade fruit and vegetables but to date there is no concrete scientific proof to support this.
There is no question that nightshade family vegetables contain levels of toxins in varying degrees. Solanine poisoning is normally linked with malnutrition and famine.
Some people seem to have more sensitivity to nightshade family vegetables and stomach upsets particularly are quite common after consuming them. It needs to be remembered, in fairness, that all of the fruit and vegetables listed here have nutritional value which in turn have many health benefits so deciding whether or not they are unhealthy must be the individual’s decision.