What Are Nightshades?

Members of the family Solanaceae, common nightshades include white (but not sweet) potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers, both the eye-watering chilies and the sweeter bell peppers. The list of edible nightshade plants also includes any spices made from peppers, like paprika, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper (although black pepper is a different plant).

The list of edible nightshades is fairly short, but the list of poisonous ones is quite extensive. Most nightshades are toxic to humans, with the best-known being belladonna, or “deadly nightshade,” traditionally valued for its use as a poison (in the play Macbeth, for example, belladonna poisoning features as a plot point).

The association with such toxic family members makes some people very concerned about all nightshades – they worry that if deadly nightshade is such a terrifying poison, then even the apparently harmless tomato must be up to no good. Farmers and gardeners in some traditional cultures seemed to agree: they were dubious about the food value of these plants, and mostly grew them as ornaments in the belief that they were unhealthy to eat.

Guilt by association and the accumulated wisdom of traditional gardeners makes for a plausible theory, but fortunately there’s just no evidence that nightshades are dangerous in any way for most healthy people. On the other hand, they might be a bad idea for people whose guts and immune systems are already compromised, especially anyone with an autoimmune disease. Readlmae:https://paleoleap.com/nightshades/

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