Nightshades are vegetables, peppers, shrubs and herbs that belong to the Solanaceae family. Although the origin of the nickname "nightshade" is unclear, it may have been connected with the flowers of these plants, which vaguely resemble the sun. The primary chemical compound in nightshades, solanine, may interfere with the production of enzymes in your muscle tissues, increasing pain, inflammation and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Simple strategies can help you eliminate nightshade vegetables and spices from your diet.
Quit eating peppers. Eliminate peppers such as cayenne, jalapenos, serranos, poblanos, cherry peppers and tomatillos from your diet. These peppers are nightshades and have high concentrations of solanine. Replace these peppers with garlic, onions and ginger, which flavor foods without adding solanine to your diet.
Avoid dishes that contain eggplant. These could include such meals as Asian stir-fry dishes and eggplant Parmesan. Eggplants are members of the nightshade family and are abundant sources of solanine. Replace eggplant with lean proteins such as chicken breast, tofu or seitan, which is a meat replacement made from wheat gluten.
Stop eating tomatoes. Use low-fat Alfredo sauces or broth instead of tomato-based sauces in Italian dishes. Tomatoes are nightshades and can aggravate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Also, use mustard or grated horseradish instead of ketchup for foods such as burgers and onion rings.
Stay away from french fries, baked potatoes, fried potatoes and gnocchi. Potatoes contain large amounts of solanine. Replace potatoes with taro, a root vegetable with a similar taste and texture.
Tips and Warnings
- Drink at least eight glasses of water each day. This may help remove solanine from your bloodstream and muscle tissues so it can be excreted from your body through urine.
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; James F. Balch, M.D., and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.; 1997
- University of California at Los Angeles: The Potato of the Humid Tropics