You’ve probably heard by now that Gisele Bündchen and her hubby Tom Brady don’t eat nightshades. And if you’ve heard that news, then you’ve also probably already consulted Google to figure out what, exactly, nightshades are (don’t worry, we had to double check on that, too). But just in case you didn’t get the full low-down on the plant family, known scientifically as solanaceae, we put together a list of need-to-know nightshade facts to bring you up to speed.
1) You probably already eat (a lot of) them.
Even though the term “nightshades” might be new to you, chances are that the foods that fall into the category are more than just a little bit familiar. Fruits and vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos, bell peppers, jalapenos, habanero peppers, white potatoes, goji berries, and huckleberries are all examples of nightshades. Several spices, like cayenne pepper and paprika, also fall under nightshades.
2) Most nightshades are poisonous.
While some of the most common vegetables are classified as nightshades, edible nightshades are in the minority when it comes to an extensive list of plants that fall into the category. In fact, most nightshades are inedible and completely toxic to humans. Belladonna, for example, or deadly nightshade as it has been called, has been used historically to make poison arrows, and is believed to have been used by the wife of the Roman emperor Claudius to poison the ruler.
3) Inedible nightshades have medicinal properties.
Even though the majority of nightshades are in fact poisonous and shouldn’t be ingested, a number of inedible plants in the nightshade family have medicinal properties when applied topically to treat different ailments. For example, bittersweet nightshades have may be applied topically to help treat eczema, or to help with skin abrasions.
4) Gisele and Tom are not the first celebrities to ditch nightshades.
Gisele and Tom may have made nightshades a hot topic, the model and football star weren’t the first celebrities to nix nightshades from their diets. A number of detox diets have been endorsed by celebrities. For example, Dr. Nish Joshi’s detox diet, which has allegedly been endorsed by Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow, calls for cutting out nightshades.
5) There’s very little science to support taking nightshades off the menu.
The decision to opt out of nightshades usually comes with reasoning that references the likeliness of fruits and vegetables from this plant family to cause problems like inflammation, gas, bloating, joint pain, and headaches. In reality, though, nightshades are really only confirmed to be bad news for people with allergies or sensitivities to ingredients like solanine found in these fruits and vegetables. As for everyone else, there’s actually very little scientific evidence to support that nightshades are problematic on a general dietary level. On the contrary, they happen to offer a wealth of benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic disease and a longer life.
About Tamara Rahoumi
Tamara Rahoumi is a writer on The Path Editorial Team. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in magazine journalism at NYU. Her passion for wellness always has her researching the latest fitness trends, experimenting with recipes from superfood cookbooks, and working towards an overall healthier and happier lifestyle. In addition to reading her articles on The Path, you can follow her adventures on her lifestyle blog, The Curly Nomad.