The Truth About Night Shades
By Tracy Neuhardt Davenport, Ph. D.
Tom Brady is a mastermind when it comes to understanding the latest science around peak performance. However, in a recent commercial, he is heard disrespecting a group of vegetables known as nightshades. Here is what you should know.
Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplants (as well as tobacco) all belong to the same botanical family, known as nightshades. The Latin name for this family of plants is solanaceae, because all of them produce an alkaloid compound called solanine. Because these veggies were long considered toxic, tomatoes were not even eaten in the US until the early 1800s. Today, some have branded these vegetables as causing inflammation and have recommended that we avoid consuming them. However, there is very little research to back up this claim.
The research actually supports the opposite, that this group of vegetables can heal us. For example, tomatoes have been shown to make people healthier and decrease the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Eggplant, because it is high fiber and low soluble carbohydrate content is an important part of a recommended diet for managing type 2 diabetes. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, red peppers meet the criteria as a one of the powerhouse fruits and vegetables, foods most strongly associated with reduced chronic disease risk.
According to Registered Dietitian Eleanor Baker, MS, RD, LDN out of Jacksonville, Florida, “Nightshade vegetables can be a part of a safe and healthy diet unless underlying digestive issues are present. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing symptoms similar to that of lactose or gluten intolerance, keeping track of your nightshade intake as well as other variables can help to identify any underlying causes. The majority of people with healthy digestion tracts can safely consume the nutrient dense produce from the nightshade family.”
Sometime the more a food myth is repeated, the more believable it becomes. Scientific based studies and how you feel after you eat certain foods should always be your guide.
- Photo by Anton Darius | Sollers on Unsplash