Nightshades and inflammation: Picture of tomatoes on vine

Welcome, dear readers! Today we’ll plunge ourselves into the murky world of nightshades and inflammation.

And no, we’re not talking about Batman’s arch-nemesis (although he would be quite the inflammatory addition to any recipe).

We’re referring to a group of vegetables that have developed quite a reputation over the years, with some people swearing off them like an ex they can’t get over.

But are nightshades really as evil as they are made out to be? Would eliminating them from your diet really help with inflammation? Let’s find out the truth about nightshades and inflammation!


What Are Nightshades?

Nightshades are a group of plant species that belong to the Solanaceae family. This group includes popular veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

You might be surprised to learn that nightshades can sometimes cause inflammation, especially in those who are sensitive to certain compounds found within them.

Two chemical compounds found in many nightshades, solanine, and capsaicin, can trigger inflammation in the body.

People with certain autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, may find that their symptoms worsen after eating nightshades.

It’s important to note that not everyone has a negative reaction to nightshades, and these plants can be a healthy and delicious addition to meals for many people.

If you think you might be sensitive to nightshades, it’s worth experimenting with eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve.


Nightshades and inflammation: Infographic on common nightshades

What Foods Contain Nightshades?

If you suspect you’ve got a problem with nightshades and inflammation, and you’re following a nightshade-free diet, it’s important to be mindful of the foods you consume.

In general, nightshades include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers, paprika), tomatillos, goji berries, and tobacco.

However, there are some foods that may be less commonly known as nightshades, such as ashwagandha, cape gooseberries, and ground cherries.

Beware of processed foods, condiments, and snacks that may include nightshade ingredients like potato starch or paprika as well.  Always read food labels on any processed foods you buy.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of delicious and healthy foods without nightshades that you can enjoy such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, blueberries, and cherries.


Nightshades and inflammation: woman with a question

Are Nightshades Bad For All Autoimmune Diseases?

So, the question of whether nightshades are bad for all autoimmune diseases is a bit complex.

While some people with autoimmune diseases may have a sensitivity or intolerance to nightshade vegetables, it’s not necessarily a blanket rule that applies to everyone with an autoimmune disease.

In fact, some research suggests that nightshades may actually have anti-inflammatory properties that could be beneficial for certain autoimmune conditions.

For some people with certain conditions, nightshades may be beneficial.  For example, The American Institute For Cancer Research lists tomatoes as one of the best cancer-fighting foods as they’re loaded with antioxidants like lycopene and beta-carotene.

Can Nightshades Cause An Autoimmune Flare Or Make It Worse?

However, if you have an autoimmune disease and notice that consuming nightshades exacerbates your symptoms, it might be worth exploring whether you have sensitivity and adjusting your diet accordingly.

Some folks may be sensitive to nightshades and eating them could potentially trigger a flare of symptoms. However, more research is needed in this area to confirm this theory.

While some studies have shown that nightshades may increase inflammation levels in some individuals, particularly those with rheumatoid arthritis, others have found no significant effects on autoimmune symptoms.

It’s worth noting that not everyone will be affected by nightshades in the same way, and that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to autoimmune conditions.

If you’re concerned about nightshades, it may be worth keeping a food diary and tracking symptoms to see if there’s a correlation.

It’s always best to listen to your body and work with a healthcare pro — like your friendly neighborhood dietitian — to determine what’s best for YOU.


 Conclusion: Nightshades And Inflammation

Well, folks, it looks like the nightshades and inflammation debate is as hot as a habanero pepper! While these veggies might be delicious and nutritious for some of us, they could be causing inflammation and discomfort for others.

So why are nightshades causing such a stir? Some experts believe that certain compounds in these vegetables, such as solanine and capsaicin, may trigger inflammation in certain individuals.

Others argue that the evidence is inconclusive and that nightshades are perfectly safe for most people.

Either way, it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel after eating nightshade-containing foods.

Some common nightshades include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers (including chili peppers), eggplant, and even tobacco!

If you suspect that nightshades may be contributing to your inflammation or other health issues, try eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks and see how you feel.

Who knows, you might be surprised by how much better you feel without these sneaky veggies in your life.

So there you have it, folks. Nightshades- delicious or dangerous? The answer is… it depends.

But if you’re feeling like something’s not quite right and you can’t put your finger on it, it might be worth considering whether or not nightshades are to blame.

As for me, I’ll take my veggies without the side of inflammation, thank you very much!

Tired of feeling like you’re constantly fighting with your own body? Is your inflammation like the annoying neighbor who won’t stop blasting their music at midnight?

No matter how many times you ask it to quiet down, it just keeps going. Inflammation is the root cause of many of our health issues, including autoimmune diseases.

That’s where a dietitian comes in. They’re like the superhero that swoops in and saves the day.

Working with a dietitian can help you determine which foods trigger your inflammation and which ones support healing. Plus, they can help you come up with a meal plan that is both delicious and nourishing.

So, if you’re ready to kick inflammation to the curb and say goodbye to autoimmune disease, it’s time to call in the big guns.  Sign up for an Autoimmune Breakthrough Session with me to get started.

***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***

If you liked this article, you might also find my recent post on 9 Signs You Have Chronic Inflammation.  Here’s a brief excerpt from the article.

Signs Of Chronic Inflammation

  1. Pain – Chronic pain is one of the most common signs of inflammation, especially in joints and muscles. If you’ve been suffering from unexplained and chronic muscle or joint pain, it could be a sign that your body has been fighting off an infection for some time. Pain not caused by an injury or that persists for more than two weeks should be checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
  2. Swelling – Inflammation typically causes swelling, which can range from mild discomfort to extreme tenderness and redness in the affected area. If your joints are swollen or tender, it could be indicative of an underlying inflammatory condition.
  3. Stiffness – When inflammation is present in the body, stiffness in the joints and muscles can occur due to increased tension in the area. This stiffness can cause difficulty moving around and performing everyday tasks like walking or getting dressed. Stiff joints can be caused by inflammation in the joints, which may lead to more severe conditions like arthritis if left untreated for too long.

Learn more a the link above.


  • Susan Taylor, RDN LD

    Meet Susan, registered dietitian / nutritionist and fellow autoimmune warrior who is dedicated to helping women with autoimmune disease get their groove back. With the right diet and lifestyle changes, Susan empowers her clients to take control of their health and feel their best. When she's not busy saving the world you can find Susan strolling along the beach, jet-setting to new destinations, and soaking up quality time with family & friends.

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