Pop quiz. What do tomatoes, tomatillos, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, and chili pepper all have in common? If you guessed that they’re all relatives to the deadly nightshade plant, then wow, I’m impressed. But are they the deadly offspring of a poisonous plant or just misunderstood cousins who want nothing to do with that identity? Let’s review.
Those who have autoimmune disorders have seen some success in reversing or lessening these disorders by eliminating nightshades from their diet. When drawing the line from poison plant to inflammation problems, it can be easy to just draw a big X through all those vegetables that share that nightshade lineage and be done. But if you don’t have an autoimmune disorder, is it necessary to cut out so many foods that are staples in many modern cuisines?
We aren’t downplaying the serious nature of autoimmune diseases, which affect one in ten people globally. But because they vary between every organ in the body, not every person with an autoimmune disease may be affected by nightshades. So first things first – when overhauling your diet, it is important to know what your body needs. A restrictive diet can be difficult to keep, but experts like dietitian Laura Schoenfeld suggest starting with a dietary reboot and then branching out to see what you can handle.
Tomatoes can be a great way to get Vitamin A and C, and eggplant has fiber, potassium, B-6 and they support heart health with their flavonoids. Potatoes are a curious case. Most people who go Paleo avoid the potato altogether for its high glycemic index and the fact that it’s part of the nightshade family. However, its wide array of nutrients make it “a decent famine food.”
Nightshade itself can be dangerous. It’s a potent poison and so it’s understandable to see the whole family as food enemy #1. But here’s the thing – cutting them out of your diet entirely can put undue stress on your meal planning and make it harder to balance meals properly. So avoid nightshades if you must, but they can be healthy additives to a balanced diet and are great ways to add healthy carbs to your diet.
Now tell us – are you a nightshade eater or have you cast them from your cooking? We’d love to hear how you do Paleo,because we always try our hardest to…
“Keep it Paleo!”
Looking for some Paleo recipes sans nightshades?