Holistic Approach to Wellness

Night Shades

Should you avoid nightshades? If you’re trying to heal from an autoimmune disease (especially rheumatoid arthritis or anything else that causes joint pain and inflammation), a 30-day nightshade elimination is definitely worth a shot. After all, it can’t really hurt, and you might be surprised at the benefits.

Total elimination is one option, but for people who are only slightly sensitive, it might be enough just to reduce the nightshade content of their diet, or to reduce the levels of the various problematic chemicals by properly preparing nightshades. This includes:
Peeling all potatoes (as the alkaloids are mostly found in the skin)
Avoiding green tomatoes and green and/or sprouting potatoes (unripe nightshades are higher in alkaloids)
Cooking nightshade vegetables whenever you eat them (this reduces alkaloid content further).

List of Nightshade Vegetables & Fruits

Nightshade fruits and vegetables belong to the family of Solanaceae plants of the Solanum genus. This group of plants contains more than 2,500 species that are widely used as food and medicine, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. Some people have a sensitivity to nightshade plants and are unable to digest them fully. If you have a sensitivity, you may experience diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, painful joints, headaches and depression from consuming nightshades.

Potatoes
This includes white, red, yellow and blue-skinned potato varieties. Sweet potatoes and yams are not nightshades. If you have sensitivity to members of the nightshade family, you need to avoid foods made from potatoes, such potato salad, french fries and mashed potatoes. Also, be sure to read ingredient lists on all processed foods to avoid potatoes and potato starch.

Tomatoes
Although the culinary world refers to tomatoes as vegetables, scientifically, they fall into the category of fruit. Stay away from all raw tomatoes and also from cooked ones in other preparations such as in tomato sauce and ketchup. Be sure to read the ingredient lists on soups and condiments such as in salsas, hot sauces and marinades, because they often contain tomatoes.

Peppers
This includes bell peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne peppers and paprika. Paprika, a spice made from ground, dried peppers, is used in a variety of cuisines. Be sure to read labels and communicate well with servers and chefs when eating out to avoid it. Peppercorns are not a member of the nightshade family, even though they contain the word “pepper” within their name.

Eggplant
Eggplant appears in Italian, Thai, Indian and other ethnic cuisines, and even though you need to avoid eating eggplant if you have a nightshade sensitivity, you can easily avoid dishes such as eggplant Parmesan. If you are ordering a meal which states that it contains mixed vegetables, be sure to communicate that you cannot eat eggplant and other nightshades. When in doubt, avoid a food altogether.

Tomatillos
Tomatillos are often found in Mexican cuisine. The fruit grows well in warm climates and can be found as a wild weed in parts of Mexico, according to Organic Gardening. Tomatillos have a papery husk and hang like small round paper lanterns from the plants. When ripe, they’re either pale yellow or purple and have a slightly citrus like flavor. Most often, you’ll find tomatillos in sauces and salsas, such as salsa verde.

Goji Berries and Other Berries
These slightly sweet berries, sometimes called wolfberries, are native to Asia. They can be eaten raw, dried or made into a juice. They’re easy nightshades to avoid, but do read ingredient lists of all juices, smoothies, teas and nutritional supplements to be sure they don’t contain goji berries. Other berries that are nightshades include garden huckleberries, ground cherries and cape gooseberries, but not normal gooseberries nor blueberries.