Nightshades and Your Health

Nightshades are foods that contain a substance called solanine. Solanine creates problems in some people. When someone reacts to solanine, they commonly get pain and inflammation.

Not every person has a bad response to solanine. However, if you have chronic joint pain, body aches, stomach problems, and headaches, it is worth testing. Do this by stopping foods with it for a while. If you get better, you will know this was the problem. You may need to avoid these for at least a month to tell.

You might also notice if you have worse symptoms after any meal. If so, check whether or not the meal might have included nightshades. These exist in many foods, so you’ll need to become a good label reader to be sure if you’re getting them or not.

Foods in the nightshade family include:

  • Tomatoes (all varieties including Tomatillos) – salsa, ketchup, pasta sauce, etc.
  • Potatoes (all varieties except sweet potatoes and yams) – French fries, baked potatoes, hash browns, etc. Also be alert for potato starch used in seasonings and to thicken sauces.
  • Peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, jalapeno, chili, cayenne, pimento)  – salsa, stuffed peppers, spicy chili, etc.
  • Paprika.
  • Eggplant.

There are other foods with solanine that are not nightshades. These may cause the problem as well:

  • Blueberries & Huckleberries [Note: this information is suspect. See the comments below about blueberries. On further research I can find no actual research showing that blueberries have any significant amount of solanine. – Dr. Bruce]
  • Okra
  • Artichokes

Even very small amounts of these can cause problems with a sensitive person, so the best test requires stopping even traces of these in your diet for a period of time.

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