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5 reasons why you should limit intake of nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, capsicum, potatoes, etc.)

The word Nightshade reminds us of a comic book character. Well, it’s no coincidence that one of our favourite comic heroes Mandrake is named after a nightshade plant. Nightshades are a group of vegetables that contains alkaloids like solanidine, capsaicin, nicotine and tropane which can sometimes be toxic. Don’t be fooled by the exotic name; you eat some of these vegetables on a daily basis. In fact, your staples like tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, potatoes and brinjal belong to this category. Many health experts advise against eating these vegetables because they can supposedly worsen inflammation in the body. Celebrities like supermodel Gisele Bundchen and her husband Tom Brady have sworn off the nightshade vegetables for good. Here are some science-backed reasons why you should limit your consumption of tomatoes, brinjals, capsicum and other nightshade veggies.

Solanine damages the body during stress
The alkaloid solanidine in nightshade tubers like potatoes and veggies like tomatoes and brinjal (egg plant) can be bad for health according to a study [1]. According to the research, the alkaloid is absorbed during digestion and stored in the body for a long time. But when you undergo instances of metabolic stress like pregnancy, starvation and other illnesses, solanidine is released into the body and can cause great harm to your health.

Nightshades can worsen arthritis in menopausal women
If you are someone who constantly suffers from joint pains, it would be wise to cut these vegetables out of your diet for good. A study conducted in 2012 in Egypt [2] concludes that in old age and during menopause, women should eliminate nightshade plants to alleviate joint pain and to lessen destruction of tissues.

There have been cases of poisoning
There have been instances where nightshade vegetables have caused poisoning. A group of school boys in a South-East London school experienced diarrhoea and vomiting after eating potatoes for lunch at the school. On investigating, it was found that the potato had 25-30mg of solanine, which was considerable more than the normal range (10 mg). [3]

Nightshade vegetables can aggravate IBS and other inflammatory bowel disorders
People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome have a good reason to avoid nightshade vegetables. A study shows that glycoalkaloids solanine and chaconine are already present in potatoes can disrupt the epithelial barrier of the stomach. When potatoes are fried, these glycoalkaloids get concentrated and end up doing more damage to the stomach. It is interesting to note that inflammatory bowel disorders were more common in countries where people ate a lot of fried potatoes. [4]

It is bad for heartburn
Red and yellow bell peppers and capsicum look very appetising on a pizza, but these nightshades are the ones to be blamed for the heartburn you experience every time you finish a hearty meal. A study conducted in 2000 showed that capsaicin, the alkaloid present in capsicum and bell peppers, aggravates heartburn that is experienced after you have dinner or lunch.

But what’s life without a little French fries on the side of your plate or a big samosa dunked in tomato ketchup! It’s true that nightshade vegetables form a big part of our daily diet. So the idea is not to cut them out entirely but to limit their intake. Nightshade vegetables also have a lot of health benefits. But If you experience none of the above-mentioned problems like IBS or heartburn, you could try eliminating them from your diet to see if there is any improvement in your condition.


1. Claringbold, W. D. B., Few, J. D., & Renwick, J. H. (1982). Kinetics and retention of solanidine in man. Xenobiotica, 12(5), 293-302.

2. Ayad, S. K. (2013). Effect of Solanine on Arthritis Symptoms in Postmenopausal Female Albino Rats. Arab Journal of Nuclear Science and Applications, 46(3), 279-285.

3. McMillan, M., & Thompson, J. C. (1979). An outbreak of suspected solanine poisoning in schoolboys. QJM, 48(2), 227-243.

4. Patel, B., Schutte, R., Sporns, P., Doyle, J., Jewel, L., & Fedorak, R. N. (2002). Potato glycoalkaloids adversely affect intestinal permeability and aggravate inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory bowel diseases, 8(5), 340-346.

5. Rodriguez-Stanley, S., Collings, K. L., Robinson, M., Owen, W., & Miner Jr, P. B. (2000). The effects of capsaicin on reux, gastric emptying and dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 14, 129-134.

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Published: May 18, 2017 5:45 pm

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