October 11, 2016

What’s with the Anti-nightshade Crusade?


Apparently supermodel Gisele and her husband Tom Brady don’t eat eggplant.

According to what their personal chef told media at the start of this year when revealing the specific diet he prepares for their family, the aubergine is indeed on a “No-No” list. Blacklisted too, are tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers.

The above foods all fall into the evil category of “Nightshades.”

For those of us who aren’t athletes or supermodels, however, and who, like me, do eat eggplant and tomatoes daily, use liberal amounts of paprika, red pepper flakes and cayenne, (also lumped into that taboo category of the “shady” items), fear not!

Regardless of whether our income is contingent largely upon us maintaining a fit, lean and/or skinny even frame, we can be svelte and healthy, all while devouring delectable nightshades. That’s right, the trendsetting bevy of famous people that are following the anti-nightshade crusade mustn’t be misconstrued as a weight loss sect, or as if concealing and hiding some “get skinny quick” system.

That’s not what “nightshade fear” is all about.

Instead, the naysayers or restrictors of this food genre, claim that group of botanical items (solanaceae) causes inflammation. Specifically, those eschewing eggplant and the like are convinced it leads to vast irritation surrounding joint problems and injuries, prompting those with arthritic complaints to opt for eliminating nightshades from their menus entirely.

From “leaky gut” to poor digestion, by stepping away from those bell peppers and skipping the spicy cayenne, some feel they’re delivering the optimal regimen to their bodies.

As for the rest of us then—are we doing something wrong?

No not at all.

Across the seas, on the lovely Italian island of Sardinia, there are more people living over the age of 100 per capita than in any other area of our great world—and they are living well!

Guess what one of their daily staples is? Eggplant!

In Greece, the staple of Melitzanosalata (eggplant salad albeit puréed and as a brown dip) is served at the table alongside other mini plates of other healthful things and on each afternoon—not all that different than the Spanish Tapas and Italian courses.

Clearly, the “Mediterranean Diet” is comprised of certain regular frequent ingredients , eggplant being a starlet, as well as tomatoes, peppers, and red chili flakes. As we have seen, that part of the world quite rightfully boasts and hosts some of the best longevity and quality of living as well.

Nightshades aren’t keeping these folks awake, nor are they frowned upon despite certain onslaughts in our own country staying or standing up just to boycott them.

Cayenne, a spice that nightshade-phobes run from, is thought to have many health benefits. It boosts metabolism, and it contains capsaicin, which is an alkaloid compound that reduces our bad cholesterol (LDL). It’s antibacterial and likely anti-carcinogenic as well.

Paprika, packed with vitamin A and carotenoids, is of course wonderful for our eyesight, eye tissue and overall ophthalmology health.

Tomatoes contain lycopene aiding in prostate health and many ailments as well! Still fearing Nightshades? Just wait—we have mushrooms!

Mushrooms, plentiful in Asian cuisine, do lend selenium, vitamin D and potassium to our bodies and have been thought by many cultures to even fend off colds!

Bell peppers you ask? Well here’s a fun nosh of trivia about those trusty balls of deliciousness too…Peppers are one of the few foods where our bodies actually burn calories and just by eating and trying to break down such lovely treasures! In this way, a pepper, raw even, is a mighty good snack!

Eggplant isn’t “bad,” nor is anything on its nightshade counterpart list. We needn’t give up our favorite foods and in many cases our ethnic heritage to avoid certain culinary staples, and in turn throw out such God-given treasures and healthful delicacies—particularly not in a world when too many people are still going hungry.

It is with gratitude for life, for every meal and for the nutritious bounty of foods that farmers grow, that we owe it to The Creator, The Cultivator, and Ourselves, to listen to our own threshold for what our body can and cannot process. In so doing, we then may quite gallantly savor and enjoy our daily dinner!

The “Nightshades” though, are healthy entities.

And not only do I go out of my way to procure items that celebrities have publicly insulted or labeled as “evil,” (knowing they follow regimens for films and “training” and scenarios far different than our daily norm and needs), but it is with the love of eggplant in mind that I do whip up a Super Touchdown meal and every day, that serves my pack and I mighty well.

Yes some of my best friends are nightshades even! (And as long as my dear DOGS do think I look like a Supermodel – me once having a dog whom I named “Babaganoush” even, after that tasty aubergine dish – then I wholeheartedly put more value on what my canines provide as ‘feedback and ratings’ and what serves my body and spirit well, than on what any celebrity, or their chef, trainer, or spokesperson, is offering up as advice).

Mix up fresh mint, parsley, raw garlic, a couple splashes of oil, Tahini, a good-colored sea salt and freshly ground black pepper—plus then that fantastic grilled eggplant (drizzled with your favorite oil), then you shall have yourself one rich Babaganoush.

You can eat that concoction plain, shmear it on toast, layer it between grilled veggies, and—with even more nightshades included on the plate—simply marvel in how good it is from aroma, to health benefits and beyond!

Most important is that each of us is eyeing our own plate, body and threshold for what works for our unique system, rather than jumping on a fad or trend to not eat certain things just because some famous faces in flashy places don’t.




Author: Laurie-Beth Robbins

Image: Pixabay 

Editor: Renée Picard

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Laurie-Beth Robbins