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What Are Nightshades and Why Should Some People Avoid Them?

Stephanie Golub
Jul 5, 2022

You may have heard that you should never, under any circumstance, consume nightshade. If we’re talking about Atropa belladonna, this is totally solid advice. Many associate nightshades with the psychoactive poisonous plant, which is indeed very dangerous. We would highly suggest leaving these berries be, but the other nightshades? We love ''em!

What are Nightshades?

The overarching umbrella of nightshades are members of the flowering plant fam, Solanaceae, a long list (like 2000 plants!) that includes plenty of safe-to-eat fruits and vegetables. Although the name “nightshade” may sound mysterious, they're easily found at the local farmers’ market. That’s right—nightshades are in your go-to Thai takeout, classic Italian comfort foods, and lunchtime salads. Let’s learn a bit about these nutritious (and definitely non-deadly) nightshades.  

Types of Nightshades & Their Health Benefits  

Tomato 

These sweet fruits are the superstars of sandwiches, creamy soups, and crudités platters. Special nutrition spotlights include their vitamin C levels that may support heart health and fiber that can improve blood sugar levels. They also contain lycopene, which is a fierce defender against free radicals and can potentially lower blood pressure. 

Eggplant

Eggplants are prized by plant-based eaters as the perfect meat substitute. The reason this teardrop-shaped fruit is so popular is due to its neutral flavor and steak-like slices. They get bonus points for their pretty deep purple color and decent amount of antioxidants, as these molecules help fight free radicals and may reduce risk of heart disease. Fiber is also found in the fleshy bits, curbing blood sugar spikes and improving digestion. 

Potato

The potato is arguably on everybody’s plate. This starchy veg is the best of all shapeshifters, able to transform into crispy french fries, creamy mash, or buttery baked potatoes. Spuds often get a bad rap because of their carb content, but they contain resistant starch, which may help control blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes. They're also fiber-dense, which gives your digestive health a boost. 

Bell Peppers 

Bell peppers are proud members of the nightshade family and are close cousins with chilis and tomatoes. This fruit is versatile, full of flavor, and packed with vitamins and minerals. Their fiber content can help improve digestive health, and their vitamin C levels are known to lower blood pressure. Peppers also contain anticoagulants, which can possibly help reduce the risk of heart attacks. 

Are Nightshades Bad for You?

One more time for the people in the back: if you’re hungry while out on a hike, nightshade berries aren’t friends or food. The produce we listed above, on the other hand, is generally safe to enjoy. The only reason to keep your distance from these fruits and veg is if you have an inflammatory or autoimmune disease, like arthritis. This is because nightshades contain a chemical compound called alkaloids, which in higher doses could potentially worsen inflammation. It's apparently the reason legendary quarterback Tom Brady doesn't eat them. Any ingredient that doesn't have anti-inflammatory properties gets the boot from Tom's plate.

How to Add Nightshades into Your Diet

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Moral of the story—don’t say no to nightshades! Not only are they packed with vitamins and minerals, but they can also take any plain ol’ meal to the next level. 

**How to Unlock Freshly Breakfast: 

Our new, nutritiously delicious breakfast items are available upon your second order. You won’t find them on our regular menu—they unlock after you build your box and click ‘Save’!

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What Are Nightshades and Why Should Some People Avoid Them?