I consider myself to be relatively educated on food and how to eat. It certainly doesn’t mean I always eat the right foods for my health and weight maintenance, but at least I have a pretty solid foundation of understanding about what my body does best on, and what the ins and outs of all kinds of foods, food combinations and diet types are.
However, one fact escaped me up until about a year or so ago. This is the idea that veggies in the “nightshade” family of vegetables are to be eaten minimally, at least if you’re a subscriber to the belief that excessive consumption of these types of veggies really can have some sort of negative health effect on you. The reason they are called “nightshades” presumably is due to their growing habits in that they like shadier areas and tend to bloom during the night time.
Several of my favorite veggies are actually considered part of the nightshade family, so you can imagine how disappointed I was to learn that this family of veggies might actually cause some toxic effects in the body. However, I’m one who always considers things with a grain of salt and I think that consuming most veggies at least in moderation is ok. They’re certainly better than eating some other foods!
These vegetables actually contain a family of naturally occurring chemicals called alkaloids. These alkaloids may cause pain and inflammation and worsening of diseases like arthritis in SOME people. They may not affect other people as much though.
You must also remember that some of these veggies have other important health benefits that help to override the potential for toxins – and also remember that every fruit or veggie that passes your lips certain can contain within it chemicals, even when grown organically. Remember that things like acid rain, air pollution and other factors can taint any food. But don’t let fear paralyze you from partaking in eating healthy fruits and veggies.
Nicotine, which is famously found in the tobacco plant, which is indeed a member of the nightshade family, is probably the most well-known alkaloid and certainly the most addictive! In addition, there are also specific alkaloids found in potatoes, chili peppers tomatoes and eggplant.
And yes, these are some of my favorite foods on the planet. I could do without chili peppers, but the rest of them I could probably eat all day long if I had to eat nothing but veggies all day long.
People who avoid these vegetables do so because either they might have inflammatory conditions that they believe are worsened when they eat these foods, or they want to avoid the alkaloid buildup in their tissues. The problem is that the alkaloids in these nightshade plants apparently do not flush out of the system entirely and can therefore build up in our bodies over time.
There are some that say this is really a bunch of over hyped BS though, and that you shouldn’t need to avoid this plant family at all. In fact, they say that diets that promote complete avoidance of these plants are somewhat irresponsible in that there is no real proof that these plants have adverse effects on the body, and that they have several benefits that really overshadow any perceived negative aspects.
If for one, will never cut these out of my diet. I really don’t have problems with inflammation, and I’ve never correlated eating these veggies with negative health effects in me personally. In the end, you have to be your own decision maker when it comes to your dietary choices, and more importantly really listen to what YOUR body tells you when you eat certain foods.