Nightshade vegetables, so called because of their habit of growing in shade and flowering at night, include potatoes, paprika, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and over 2500 other species. All belong to the family Solanaceae.
Nightshade vegetables are a common staple in many households. From potatoes to tomatoes, nightshades are used in almost every restaurant in the United States.
Many of these veggies have a bad reputation from old wives' tales. These uninformed stories blame consumption of nightshade plants as the sole cause for arthritis, osteoporosis and migraines. People claim that having a nightshade-free diet cures them of these ailments. However, none of these statements are linked to any scientific evidence.
Members of the nightshade family of vegetables grow throughout the world, but are typically found in the tropical regions of Latin America. There are only around 50 species that grow in the United States and Canada combined. These vegetables tend to do well in greenhouses or outside during the summer months.
Some members of the nightshade family do contain toxic chemicals. However, the nightshade vegetables found at the supermarket are perfectly safe. Veterinarians warn against pet owners growing certain nightshades such as tomatoes because the leaves can have some toxic effects if eaten.