Nightshade vegetables are very nutritious and versatile. However, not all of us can enjoy the benefits of having them. Especially if you have any food allergies, intolerance or IBS or autoimmune diseases, you are more vulnerable to be sensitive to nightshade vegetables.
Although there are more than 2000 species in this category, the most prominent and edible members of this group of veggies are potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and huckleberries. A popular non-edible member of this group is the tobacco plant.
Common Allergens In Nightshade Vegetables
Alkaloids found in nightshade vegetables are responsible for causing allergic reactions in humans. These include solanine, capsaicin, and nicotine.1
Solanine is found in potatoes and is not toxic unless consumed in large amounts. The distinct feature solanine metabolites are that they get released at the time of stress. Tomatine is similar to solanine and is found in tomatoes.2
It’s important to keep in mind that these alkaloids are most concentrated in the green leafy portions of these plants. Therefore, it’s advised not to eat potatoes that have already started to sprout. These chemicals are majorly responsible for causing irritation of the gastrointestinal tract leading to symptoms like severe vomiting and diarrhea. If left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and death.
Capsaicin is what makes peppers spicy and delectable. Although it has scientifically proven anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, in high doses it can be an irritant. When skin or mucus membranes come in contact with capsaicin, a burning sensation occurs initially which reduces with time. Studies have revealed that it can cause heartburn and acid reflux in people who are sensitive to it.3
Nicotine is probably the most popular alkaloid and is majorly found in tobacco plants. It has the ability to keep pests away but on human beings, it can have an addictive effect. Even if you don’t use tobacco in any form, you wouldn’t be able to escape the ill effects of nicotine. This is because it’s present in almost all edible nightshade plants. That’s the reason why a pack of fries seems so irresistible to you.
Symptoms Of A Nightshade Allergy
The milder symptoms of a nightshade allergy are rashes, itchiness, nasal congestion, wheezing or difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting. Many experience problems with digestion like bloated stomach, diarrhea, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation. However, the more serious symptoms include difficulty breathing, throat constriction, dizziness or loss of consciousness.
Many a time people aren’t able to recognize these signs as indicators of nightshade allergy because they seem to overlap with pre-existing gluten or lactose allergy.
Coping With A Nightshade Allergy
If you suspect you could be suffering from a nightshade allergy, then it’s best to get an allergy test done. Making dietary modifications is easier if you are aware of your food allergies.You would have to stop eating nightshade plants and instead for the ones below.
- Sweet potatoes and yam
- Swiss Chard
- Spices like black and white pepper
Often your doctor would prescribe antihistamines, or nasal sprays or epi-pens if you have mild-moderate reactions. If you eat mindfully, these allergies can be prevented from happening.
|↑1||Dolan, Laurie C., Ray A. Matulka, and George A. Burdock. “Naturally occurring food toxins.” Toxins 2, no. 9 (2010): 2289-2332.|
|↑2||Siegmund, Barbara, Erich Leitner, and Werner Pfannhauser. “Determination of the nicotine content of various edible nightshades (Solanaceae) and their products and estimation of the associated dietary nicotine intake.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 47, no. 8 (1999): 3113-3120.|
|↑3||Rodriguez-Stanley, S., K. L. Collings, M. Robinson, W. Owen, and P. B. Miner Jr. “The effects of capsaicin on reflux, gastric emptying and dyspepsia.” Aliment Pharmacol Ther 14 (2000): 129-134.|