It seems there are as many celebrity food and diet fads as there are late-night infomercials and most past by without much notice. But when a healthy and good looking athlete like Tom Brady talks about what he does and doesn’t eat, it makes an impact. So when Brady’s personal chef stated he avoids nightshades, you may be wondering if you should too.
What Are Nightshades?
Nightshades are fruits and vegetables found in the Solanaceae family and have most likely been on your dinner plate since you were in diapers. Nightshades include tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, and goji berries. Tobacco is also part of the Solanaceae family, as is the belladonna plant, which is known to be toxic.
The belladonna plant and other poisonous nightshades berries have extremely high levels of alkaloids. When ingested, they interfere with the body’s nerve signaling and can lead to the shut down of body functions. They are dangerous and can be fatal if enough is ingested.
Are Nightshades Foods Safe?
Tom Brady and others who avoid nightshades aren’t afraid of fatal alkaloid overdose. Instead, it’s avoided because they believe it causes inflammation and adds to arthritis and joint stiffness. But there’s no real science that proves this. The amount of alkaloids present in the foods found in the Solanaceae family is minuscule and not enough to cause any type of toxic effect.
Although you can’t overdose on alkaloids by eating too many eggplants, the same can’t be said about green potatoes. When potatoes are exposed to light, the levels of alkaloids increase and cause the flesh to turn green. Although these tarnished vegetables have higher amounts of the nerve toxin, large amounts need to be ingested for it to become dangerous. A 100-pound person would need to eat a solid 16 ounces of purely green potatoes to be impacted.
Do Nightshades Have Benefits?
Instead of being avoided because of negative effects, these foods offer a wide range of health benefits and are typically recommended. Tomatoes and eggplants are full of antioxidants, and are known to improve circulation and brain health. Nightshades have a variety of vitamins and minerals, including lectins, which help heal ulcers and reduce the risk of other chronic diseases.
Although Tom Brady may be a great quarterback, he may not be making the best nutritional decisions. Any elimination diet that does not allow whole groups of healthy foods can cause deficiencies and lead to other health problems. Instead of following the fads, eat healthily and be your own health hero.
- Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
- Consume whole foods instead of processed
- Drink at least eight glasses of water a day
- Eat fatty fish to get plenty of Omega-3s
- Avoid any diet that says you can’t have something