Find Out What Vegetables are Classified as Nightshade
Nightshade vegetables are making headlines in recent days. With A-list celebrities touting diets nixing nightshade vegetables, the sudden interest in this group of vegetables is causing curious people to investigate them further. So, what are they?
Nightshade vegetables are common foods populating any local grocery store. Numbering more than 2,000 species, they come from the plant Solanaceae and grow in the shade of night—hence the name. Although some species are toxic, most are your standard agricultural crops, annual and perennial herbs, and plants used for medicinal purposes, and almost all provide a rich source of vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy diet. In addition, more than 50 percent are grown in North America in a wide variety of climates and habitats.
Types of Nightshade Vegetables
Many nightshade vegetables are actually classified as fruits, but they fall under the umbrella term “nightshade vegetables.” A few of the most common types include the following:
This fruit/vegetable (considered both in cuisines throughout the world) offers approximately 40 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, a vitamin that works to boost your immune system. Tomatoes also contain lycopene that prevents serum lipid oxidation, which protects you from cardiovascular diseases.
You can also drink tomato juice for health benefits. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, drinking tomato juice can decrease LDL cholesterol levels and increase LDL resistance to oxidation, which helps your body produce the proper amount of free radicals.
With a slightly creamy texture and thin layer of skin, cooking enthusiasts laud white potatoes, as they tend to hold their shape when cooking. They can also save prepping time by not peeling them, as the skin serves as a healthy source of fiber.
White potatoes also provide other health benefits. With approximately 110 calories each, they contain more potassium than a banana. Potassium helps you recover from your workouts and keep your muscles properly functioning.
The most well-known sweet peppers are the bell peppers, a versatile food that comes in a variety of green, red, yellow, and orange colors. They are not spicy, compared with other peppers on the market, making them a suitable alternative for those opposed to spicy foods.
A medium pepper contains a mere 24 calories and provides a substantive measurement of vitamin C: 159 percent of your daily recommended dose.
A popular food with vegetarians, eggplants can serve as a meat substitute in entrees. With an egg-like shape (hence the name) and shades ranging from vivid purple to white to green, this popular nightshade vegetable contains anthocyanins, a compound offering antioxidant effects. The anthocyanin is actually the pigment giving eggplant its vibrant hue.
A pimento is a large, heart-shaped chili pepper measuring up to three to four inches long. They are also known as a cherry pepper because of their red color and shape mirroring a cherry.
Containing zero calories per slice, pimentos do not offer much in terms of nutritional value. However, they do add sweetness and a small amount of heat to dishes. Measuring 100 to 500 heat units on the Scoville Scale, pimentos are considered one of the mildest chili peppers, a satisfactory choice for anyone who enjoys a modest kick in their food but does not want to feel overpowered with spice.
Also known as wolfberries, these bright, red and orange berries offer a sweet-and-sour flavor. You often find them in dehydrated form, like you would with craisins. But they are also available raw and cooked, and you can find them in teas, juices, supplements, and alcoholic beverages.
Often touted as a “fountain of youth,” goji berries have been consumed for centuries in the hopes that people who eat them live longer. In Chinese medicine, the wolfberry fruit has been used for more than 2,000 years because of its ability to strengthen the body, keep people fit, prolong life and make life easier throughout “every season”.
You should take precautions when consuming goji berries, however, as they can interact with some medications, including blood thinners and blood pressure and diabetes drugs.
In Spanish, tomatillo means “little tomato,” but this is a misnomer. Rather, tomatillos are not tomatoes and come from an entirely different plant altogether. Originating from Mexico, they are a greenish color and are a popular ingredient in salsa verde.
With only 32 calories each and offering 20 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, 13 percent of vitamin K, as well as niacin—a natural vitamin in the body that helps with overall general health—tomatillos provide a substantial dose of health benefits and compounds that are found to have no side effects or toxicity.
You should take precautions with eating nightshade vegetables if you experience any of the following:
- Food sensitivities
- Food allergies
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Histamine intolerance
- Arthritis—A popular theory was that nightshade vegetables would trigger arthritis due to the alkaloids commonly found in the plants. The Arthritis Foundation states this is not true. In fact, a 2010 study suggests that potatoes can actually reduce inflammation and DNA damage that aggravates arthritis.
If you do prefer to eliminate nightshade vegetables from your diet, such as for food allergy reasons, you might want to consume the following alternatives:
- Sweet potatoes
You can try switching out nightshades vegetables for these substitutes for two to three weeks and note if doing so removes any symptoms. It is possible that if you do, this is merely a placebo effect, according to medical professionals.
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