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Shedding Light on “Inflammatory” Nightshades

Dear reader,

Let me tell you the big reason we are here.

Tom Brady.

You may have heard of him.

I cannot EXPRESS how much I’m having to hold back just pounding on this keyboard to inform you all the reasons you should not buy into his BS TB12 diet. A diet he credits as his reason for being (as much as I hate to admit it) quite possibly the best quarterback of all time. Even in his advanced age that’s unusual for the NFL.

Without launching into the long list of ridiculous restrictions his diet has (I’m doing a lot better than I thought at this holding back thing), one feature I want to focus on here is his avoidance of nightshades.

Of all the food avoidances people engage in, this is one that is near the top of my list of pet peeves.

But before we get into why. Let’s go over what a nightshade is and why Tom Brady (and many other people) avoid them. Even to the point of calling it an allergy.

Nightshade is a pretty scary name. It literally sounds like an ingredient in some sort of witch’s brew, but some of the vegetables to whom the name belongs are not nearly as exotic or uncommon as you may think. Here’s a list of some foods from the nightshade family:

  • Tomatoes

  • Eggplant

  • Potatoes

  • Goji berries

  • Peppers (including bell peppers, cayenne and paprika)

Yuppppp that’s right. Tom Brady and his TB12 nonsense will tell you to avoid TOMATOES.


But supposedly, avoiding them is a must or you are condemned to suffer the fiery hells of inflammation.

Okay, so what’s the truth? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

Nightshades are a group of plants from the family called Solanaceae. The name “nightshade” comes from the belief that they grow best in the nighttime, or in the shade, rather than a normal plant that needs sunshine to grow.

The name itself sounds pretty intimidating, which does not help the plant’s reputation.

Many people avoid this group of vegetables due to the belief that they cause inflammation in the body. Most go so far as to claim they have a nightshade allergy because they can swear they feel the inflammatory effects of eating the foods from this family.

But where did this belief come from?

Nightshade plants contain a compound called solanine, a natural pesticide the plant produces to protect itself and any health food enthusiast knows to wave a wooden cross in the face of pesticides and step slowly away.

However, it should be noted that the amount of solanine in the meat of the vegetable is so tiny it’s insignificant. Solanine is mostly concentrated in the leaves of nightshade plants and, at worst, eating the leaves would give you a tummy ache.

It should be mentioned that there are plants that are members of the nightshade family that are actually poisonous, but these species do not have culinary applications. Which basically means you’re not going to run into them in foods.

Many anecdotal reports claim that including nightshades in the diet can exacerbate a variety of inflammatory conditions from inflammatory bowel syndrome to arthritis, but there has been no solid scientific evidence confirming this link.

In fact, one study even found that foods from the nightshade family reduce inflammation in the body and adverse reactions to these vegetables are quite rare and connected to a genetic component (that you can’t control).

And there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that says eating nightshade vegetables have a negative impact on athletic performance.

The bottom line? Many vegetables in this group, such as tomatoes and peppers, are actually packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Additionally, these foods are staples in the Mediterranean diet which is considered to be one of the healthiest diets in the world due to its heart health and anti-cancer properties.

Basically, despite its scary name, you’re hurting your health so much more by avoiding such healthful foods than just eating the damn things.

Let Tom Brady stick to quarterbacking.


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