Nightshade vegetables and inflammation: Do they affect arthritis?

Nightshade foods contain solanine, a chemical which some people believe may aggravate arthritis pain or inflammation. The Arthritis Foundation say that this is not true. However, if a person feels that certain foods trigger their arthritis symptoms, including nightshades, they should avoid these foods.

In this article, we discuss the effects that nightshade vegetables might have on inflammation and arthritis symptoms, the health benefits of nightshades, and which other foods may have anti-inflammatory effects.

What are nightshade vegetables?

Nightshade vegetables are part of the plant family Solanaceae. Some species are toxic, including the belladonna plant, which is also called deadly nightshade. Other species are commonly cultivated and eaten by humans.

Common nightshade vegetables that we eat include:

  • white potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • eggplant
  • bell peppers
  • cayenne pepper
  • paprika

Nightshades contain an alkaloid called solanine, which is toxic in high concentrations.

Solanine is found in trace amounts in potatoes and is normally safe, though the leafy stalks of the potato plant and green potatoes are toxic, and solanine poisoning has been reported from eating green potatoes.

Certain nightshade vegetables can be excellent sources of nutrients, including vitamins, protein, and fiber.

Eating a varied diet rich in vitamins and minerals can have a powerful effect on a person’s health and improve the symptoms of chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Nutritious nightshades include the following:


Eggplant is an ingredient used in many diets, including the Mediterranean diet and is stocked in most grocery stores.

Eggplant is a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin B-1, B-6, and K.


Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including biotin, potassium, iron, and zinc. They also contain the antioxidant lycopene, which may improve inflammation.


Purple, white, and yellow potatoes all offer nutritional value that includes fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B-6.


Bell peppers are great sources of vitamin A and C, potassium, and folic acid.

A person may be allergic to one or more nightshade vegetables if they experience the following symptoms shortly after eating them:

  • hives or a skin rash
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • tightness of the throat
  • pale skin
  • anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction and a medical emergency.

If a person experiences a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis after eating any food, they should seek emergency medical attention and use an EpiPen, if one is available.


Nightshade vegetables are excellent sources of nutrition, and no research to date has linked them specifically to increased inflammation or other symptoms of arthritis.

However, there are some people with sensitivities or food allergies that involve the nightshade family. Eliminating these foods may help those with a sensitivity find relief from their symptoms.

A person should speak with a dietitian if they are concerned about the effects of a particular food on their health.

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