Are Nightshade Vegetables Really Bad?

Nightshade Vegetables and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Are Nightshade Vegetables Really Bad?

Nightshade vegetables get a bad rap. This food group is one of the only ones doctors suggest avoiding when you are diagnosed with an illness like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Why? They all contain a chemical called solanine, which has been identified as a reason many people experience arthritis pain. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and not everyone experiences increased pain with nightshade vegetables. It is something you’ll need to monitor yourself and see how they affect your arthritis.

Most nightshade plants are actually poisonous (remember the scene The Hunger Games when Katniss contemplates ending her life by eating nightshade?), but there are large varieties that are acceptable once they are ripe or are not poisonous at all. These have been incorporated into the modern diet in many ways.

What Are Nightshade Vegetables?


This means laying off the potato chips, fries, potato salad, gratin, mashed potatoes and anything else that has an element of potatoes in it. It also includes white potatoes, but also red, blue and yellow potatoes. Sweet potatoes, however, are in the clear and are not a member of the nightshade family.


If nightshade veggies bother you, this means saying goodbye to lots of Italian favorites like pizza, calzones, spaghetti and pasta. It also means bidding adieu to ketchup, fresh tomatoes in salads, many soups and lots of Mexican food (which often contains tomatoes in one of its staples—salsa). Similarly, tomatillos are a no-no for those who have pain with nightshade vegetables, and are often found in Mexican foods.



Eggplant, or aubergine as it is referred to in some countries, is a purple oblong shaped vegetable. Eggplant isn’t as widely used as potatoes and tomatoes in cooking, so it is pretty easy to avoid. However, if you’re dining on Asian cuisine, you’ll need to double check as it is sometimes used in Asian cooking.


This is a bummer if you’re into spicy Mexican food, as it is often used in Mexican (or other ethnic) cuisine. Also members of this family are paprika (this can be a huge problem if you ever vacation or live in Hungary, as most things are laced with paprika there, so it is important to double check), bell papers, jalapenos, habaneros and cayenne pepper. Despite its name, peppercorn is not a member of the nightshade family and can be consumed, despite any sensitivity to the nightshade family.


You can breathe a sigh of relief as not all berries are part of the nightshade family and in fact, most aren’t. Goji berries are one of the major culprits and they have had their moment as a health food and are sometimes found in smoothies or health drinks. Also on the list are huckleberries, cape gooseberries (not normal gooseberries, however), and ground cherries. Normal cherries are a-ok.

Next page: less common edible nightshades.

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