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 are part of the nightshade family. This includes white, red, yellow and blue-skinned potato varieties. Sweet potatoes and yams are not nightshades, however, according to The Weston A. Price Foundation. 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.
Another widely consumed member of the nightshade family are 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.
All peppers belong to the Solanaceae family, as well. 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 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, another member of the nightshade family, 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.
6. Goji Berries and Other Berries
Small, red goji berries fall into the nightshade family. 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.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Solanaceae
- The Food Intolerance Institute of Austrailia: Nightshade Vegetable Sensitivity
- The Weston A. Price Foundation: Nightshades
- Oxford Dictionaries: Is a Tomato a Fruit or a Vegetable?
- University of Illinois Extension: Backyard Super Foods
- Organic Gardening: Tomatillo: A Growing Guide