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List of Nightshade Veggies and Fruits

February 9, 2013

Please read: Plant taxonomy
*I have added the link above to help those that are confused about plant taxonomy, meaning how plants are broken down into their classifications. I don’t mind when anyone asks me to double-check a plant on the list (and when I have time I even check plants that are not on the list) – and as I have stated before, some of my readers have been invaluable in keeping this list as ‘correct’ as possible. But, those of you that get upset about seeing various plants on this list need to understand something – I am not the taxonomist or botanist that classified them! Getting mad at me for having a Solanaceae plant on this list, that you ‘like’ for whatever reason, is not going to change its classification in the plant kingdom, and no, I will not take a plant off the list unless it can be proven that it is not, in fact, part of the Solanaceae family (Some plants have been reclassified as science progresses.).

A little bit about Nightshades:

A large family of plants grown in the shade of night called Solanaceae. These vegetables and fruits contain a substance, called alkaloids, which may be responsible for some health problems including muscle pain, morning stiffness, poor healing, acid reflux, insomnia,  gallbladder problems, arthritis and other inflammatory problems.

These alkaloids are produced by the plants to protect them from harmful insects.

However, these substances can act like chemical substances and have strong physiological effects in humans.

There are four basic types of alkaloids found in nightshade plants. These types are:

(1) Steroid alkaloids, which contain a fairly complicated fused ring structure and are found in most food nightshades including potato and tomato.
(2) Tropane alkaloids, all originating from the simple amino acid ornithine and found in fewer of the overall nightshades, but more extensively researched due to their strong drug-like properties
(3) Pyrrolizidine alkaloid.*
(4) Indole alkaloids.*
*Both important groups from a drug standpoint.

Solanine
Solanine is the toxin (Glycoalkaloid Poison) contained in all nightshade plants such as tomatoes, potatoes, and goji berries. It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. Solanine has fungicidal and pesticidal properties. Again, it is one of the plant’s natural defenses.

*This is about as in-depth about why nightshades can cause trouble for folks that I intend to get into. You can find a ton of information online if you search for information about:

  • nightshades
  • no nightshade diet
  • solanine
  • solanine toxcity syndrome

Nightshade Vegetables:

  • Banana Peppers
  • Cayenne
  • Chili Peppers
  • Datil
  • Eggplant
  • Habanero
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Paprika
  • Pimentos
  • Potatoes (sweet potatoes are okay)
  • Sweet Peppers (black pepper is okay)
  • Thai Peppers
  • Tomatillos
  • Potatoes
  • Wax Peppers

Nightshade Fruits:

  • Goji Berries/Wolfberry
  • Gooseberry/Cape Gooseberry/Ground Cherry
  • Jerusalem Cherries
  • Pepino
  • Tamarillo
  • Tomatoes

Herbs / Plants:

  • Ashwagandha
  • Banewort (another name for nightshade)
  • Belladonna / Atropa Belladonna (used in Homeopathy, found in Viagra)
  • Bittersweet (Atropine Belladonna)
  • Brugmansia
  • Datura
  • Devil’s Cherries (another name for nightshade)
  • Devil’s Herb (another name for nightshade)
  • Divale (another name for nightshade)
  • Dubiosia
  • Dwale (another name for nightshade)
  • Dwayberry (another name for nightshade)
  • Great Morel (another name for nightshade)
  • Henbane
  • Hyoscyamus
  • Jimson Weed
  • Mandrake
  • Mandragore
  • Nightshade / Deadly Nightshade
  • Petunias (yes, the flower)
  • Solanum
  • Tobacco

*I may have a few of the above on the ‘wrong’ lists…but the point of putting this all down in list form is to help you sort out what in your diet might be causing you to suffer from muscle pain, morning stiffness, poor healing, acid reflux, insomnia,  gallbladder problems, arthritis and other inflammatory problems.

Other foods that contain solanine:

*As it turns out, although the healthy divine little blueberry fruits are not a nightshade plant, they do contain solanine. In the spirit of being cautious here is a list of non-nightshade plants (specifically not in the Solanaceae family) that contain solanine:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Sugar beets
  • Huckleberries
  • Okra
  • Artichokes

Other forms of ‘food’ that can contain solanine:

  • Modified Food Starch (Be cautious of starch if it doesn’t say where it’s derived from.)
  • Starch (*If it doesn’t say where it’s derived from, check with the manufacturer)
  • Yeast (*Most yeast contains potato, both baking yeast and beer yeast. **Red Star yeast does not contain potato.)
  • Shellac Wax (comes from Lac beetle that feeds on Wolfberry plants, found on shiny fruit and veggies, commonly not listed in ingredients)
  • Palmitate Vitamin A (In margarine and milk, it’s derived from potatoes.)

Medicines and Chemicals:

  • Acrylamide
  • Atropine
  • Chaconine
  • Hyoscine (another name for scopolamine)
  • Nicotine
  • Scopolamine (common in motion sickness meds)
  • Solanine
  • Viagra (contains belladonna)

Not to be mistaken for Nightshades:

  • Black Pepper
  • White Pepper
  • Green Peppercorns
  • Sichuan Pepper
  • Tasmannia
  • Long Pepper

Another note on starch:
Shredded Cheese often contains potato starch, food manufacturers add it so the cheese will not clump. I now buy my cheese in blocks and shred it myself. I often pre-shred small amounts from the block.  A little extra work yes, but avoiding the muscle pain and belly aches are worth the work.

*One of my readers pointed out that the problem with nightshade vegetables and fruits is possibly the Lectin. Here is a good article about Digestive and immune distress due to Lectin.

As a last note:
I’ve known for a long time that I have to be very careful eating nightshade plants. It is probably not a coincidence that I had to have my gall bladder removed in my late 30’s.

Solanine cannot be destroyed by cooking at high temps – other than in one case: deep frying is the only way it can be destroyed in potatoes. And since I don’t usually like deep fried foods of any sort I rarely eat fries anyhow.

So you will notice that I will be very cautious about adding nightshades into my diet. When I do it will be in small amounts.

*Update

To all who do not agree that there could be such a ‘beast’ as ‘night shade’ sensitivity.

Due to a recent complaint from a reader, who believes that I have not stated clearly enough that this list and journal is based on my experience – I want to once again state that:

This journal is based on my experience. It is meant to provoke thought. I want you, the reader, to question everything you are told, especially if you, like me, have battled debilitating pain and illness most of your life.

Question everything. Including this ‘list’. As I believe I mentioned before, there is no ‘official’ list out there. That is why I worked to compile this list and share it with others. It may by no means be complete, and I have stated that on some of the items on the list that I myself am not even sure how accurate their place on the list is. I have even added, deleted, and amended this list with the help of my readers.

When something one needs is not ‘out there’…one creates it! Hence this list!

I am not a medical professional. I have never claimed to be such. I have stated over and over: “what worked for me – may not work for you.” And just in case I have not stated this clearly enough for the reader that decided to take me to task – this is based on my experience, and my experience was extreme.

~Amy

A Page for Reader Submitted Recipes

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213 Comments
  1. Kay S Bradford permalink

    Thank you for your very helpful information. I also have ulcerative colitis as well as rheumatoid arthritis. I ate a bunch of cherries (they were delicious) but the next morning my knee hurt so badly I could hardly walk. I am wondering if that is the reason.

  2. Deb permalink

    What about grape leaves?

  3. Ruth Jeffery-MacLean permalink

    Thank you Amy. Your work is very helpful as I wade through the causes of chronic discomfort.

  4. Janet Kirch permalink

    Hi Amy, do you by any chance know what type of doctor tests for the relationship of non- absorbency of vitamins and bone loss. As mentioned I suffer from Sjogrens, PN, and also severe Osteoporosis, with a high risk for fracture. My Gyn won’t treat me, I went to several doctors who claimed I am too complex to treat as what works for one disorder, may harm me in another way. I believe I need tests that can get to the root of the reasons for my bone loss. My calcium serum was fine, my PHT was fine, my D3 was fine from my regular dr. Any answer would be appreciated. Thank you again so very much. Jan

    • Hello Janet, Unfortunately I do not know what type of tests would be needed. One of the tough parts of Dr/Patient relationships is when you have a doctor or specialist that does not agree with you, or does not know ‘what to do with you’…and will not offer, or help you get the testing you feel you need.

      I do hope that you locate someone in your health-care circle that can help you. Do you have any Naturopathic doctors in your area that you could consult with? I know that some insurance companies will not cover this. I have a friend that pays out of pocket to see hers.

      I do wish you the best in your journey and hope you find answers.
      ~Amy

  5. Denise Twinney permalink

    Hi Amy
    Would Maca root be a nightshade?
    Thank you

  6. Lisa Scully permalink

    I have wondered the last several years why I hurt in the summertime and not so much in the winter time. I always thought that was odd until I found out about nightshades and our garden that we grow.
    Thanks for your information! I was just wondering about the black pepper that we grind..
    Thx u!

  7. Thank you for your help. You dont have to be a doctor to give aid to people who need help. It is your story and thank you for sharing. Now I am going on my Jorney to better health with your advice to get me going. Kudos!

  8. I note this is an old post, but, it is helpful to educate others, those who do not know they might have this food group problem, also, those in food industries, to doctors trying to find a answer to a patient’s intolerances.
    I have a horrible intolerance to solanine produce. Potatoes are my number 1 problem, found hidden in so many foods and medicines.
    Aubergine, okra and artichokes cause trouble, but, not to the extent of white potato. I can eat tomatoes and pepper in small quantities.
    Apples bloat me, always have, I just assumed it was the acidity in them.
    My father had most problems with peppers. He just avoided deadly nightshade foods, not knowing about solanine. So, is there a hereditery link?
    It is tricky to look at ingredients lists where ‘starch’ is listed, without the source being stated.
    There is definitely a truth to your post. People do not realise how distressing intolerance to these foods affect everyday life. Horrendous pain, lethargy, bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, if one accidentally consumes solanine. I used to make a point of locating toilets, packing pain meds and anti diarrhea tablets with me on trips. Most restaurant staff are aware of gluten, dairy, egg, seafood intolerance/allergies, but, are usually surprised when I inform them of the potato situation. Thankfully, I never liked chips, I do adore sweet potato, which has gained popularity and is lacking solanine.
    It took 10 years of agony to find out what was causing my digestive distress. It really kicked in in my late 20’s. The relief of finding out my cause has given me freedom from extreme pain.
    I wish there was more research.

  9. Dee O'Neill McKinney permalink

    Thank you

  10. Ruthie Ross permalink

    dear Amy,
    I so appreciate your article and the kind and mindful spirit in which you write. First, what is your art medium? I am hoping to develop my art and doing so right now, film, photography and life messages.
    I am reading more about nightshades as I suffer from osteoarthritis and want to test as many options as possible. Is Cacao and coffee considered nightshade? Thanks for your time.

  11. Ruthie Ross permalink

    Forgot to include in my question AFA nightshades, what about all red or golden beets and any mushrooms?
    Thanks again.

    • Somewhere back in the comments there is a link about beets. Mushrooms are fungi. No need to worry about having them in your diet.

      ~Amy

  12. Lyn permalink

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. This is how we learn! Namaste!!

  13. Linda W. Clark permalink

    Thank you for being a voice for those of us who have looked for answers for years! Over 30 years ago, I was diagnosed as being “allergic” to tomatoes, potatoes, dog hair and spinach”. As a teenager, I had never noticed any issues. In my early twenties I had spinach dip and thought I was going to die because of the gastrointestinal pain. I had my gall bladder out at age 25 and it showed severe scaring. Now at 52, I’m finally listening to what my body has been trying to tell me all these years. I agree that some people in the medical field do not/will not listen when told about food intolerance. I am slowly but surely identifying and eliminating foods that cause me problems (joint pain, insomnia, inflammation, IBS, etc…) I can only pray that others will listen to their bodies and care enough to start taking care of themselves sooner than later. Again, thank you for the list and your excellent information.

  14. Carmen permalink

    Hello Amy,
    I didnt see tapioca/cassava on your list.
    Have you looked into it?
    Thanks for the nice list

    • Although Cassava is a ‘rosid’…there are numerous articles that are not very favorable towards Cassava. I myself do not use tapioca/cassava at all and never really have.
      ~Amy

      Cassava

      • mollie nickle permalink

        i tried tapioca and it did cause problems for me very quickly.

      • Thank you for weighing on on tapioca Mollie. I had bought some, but just never got around to trying to use it in my diet, and then discovered using it might not be a good idea given my history. And to be honest, I was getting weary of food prep being such a prolonged process at times. It was just easier to clear stuff out, and not always try to replace it.
        ~Amy

      • mollie nickle permalink

        i agree! just finding enough healthy food to do a rotation diet is struggle enough without trying to replace minor ingredients. keep it as simple as you can!

  15. Beth permalink

    I have terrible psoriasis, and have just read a book, ‘Healing Psoriasis’, by John O. A. Pagano. His conclusion is that nightshades are the culprit, with powerful case studies and photographs. Thank you for compiling this list, and for sharing your research! I have spent countless hours with dermatologists, none of whom mentioned that the poison creeping all
    over my skin comes from within. Thanks, Amy!

    • You are welcome Beth.
      I had psoriasis for years. It ‘cleared up’ on it’s own…of course, after I had taken solanine/nightshades out of my diet. It was years before I made the connection as to why the spontaneous ‘healing’.
      ~Amy

  16. Ruth Braham permalink

    Thank you for doing this.
    I’m starting AIP diet and wanted clarity on nightshades.
    Not a helpful comment but there really is a mandrake plant? All my effort not to issue warnings about ear defenders etc.

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