The macrobiotic philosophy is the only dietary system to warn against Nightshade vegetables. Ironically, the deadly Paleo Diet does warn against them, but that's the exception that proves the rule. Why don't other dietary systems warn us about these toxic foods? Macrobiotics has warned people about them for over a half century. The poisons in them have been well known to science since 1900. Nightshades are botanically known as the Solanaceae family. They include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, deadly nightshade, belladonna, Jimson weed, and tobacco. Peppers are the Capsicum family. These are all poisonous plants, even deadly. The harmful glycoalkaloids they contain are solanine, tomatine, and chaconine. Each year the average American family of four consumes enough solanine in potatoes alone to kill every one of them- if it was taken all at once. Many cultures simply do not use Nightshades, or use only small amounts of them. Only Southern Italians, Greeks, and Spani-ards use these as a staple. A mere 100 years ago tomatoes were rarely eaten in America. Now they are a major staple. Let's go over all four of them...
POTATOES (Solonaceae tuberosa) This is especially true of green-skinned ones, and the sprouts you often find on them. They vary widely in solanine content, up to a whopping 30 mg per 100 g serving, and about 12 mg is the average. Yes, you can safely eat one serving of potatoes a week, but that's it. White people seem to be the potato eaters of the world, and Americans eat about 132 pounds a year. Yet, we only eat 1% whole grains. French fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, hash browns, potato pancakes, potato chips, and potato salad. French fries are actually now a major dietary staple. Potatoes are cheap, easy to grow, filling, and versatile, but contain little nutrition. All of the industrialized countries basically live on a meat and potato diet. Why this love affair with a mere low-nutrition tuber? We have made potatoes into a dietary religion- 132 pounds a year per person.
TOMATOES (Solonaceae lycopersicum). Botanically this is a fruit. For centuries they were considered an inedible ornamental plant not fit for human or animal consumption. They contain both solanine and tomatine. If you ate just one tomato a day for a year the solanine alone would kill you- if eaten all at once. 100 years ago tomatoes played little part in the American diet. Now we eat over 90 pounds a year as pizza, ketchup, pasta sauce, sliced tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, and other foods. Most cultures do not use them, and only Southern Italy makes a cult out of them. Northern Italians use very little. Tomatoes are one of the top top allergenic foods known (read the Food Allergies article). Many people have obvious allergies to tomatoes, and their skin breaks out after eating even just half of one. All the so-called natural diet authors recommend tomatoes as a regular staple (especially Dr. McDougall). More proof none of them know what they're doing. By the way, lycopene is not a valid nutritional supplement whatsoever, despite it's endless commercial promotion (read the Lycopene is Garbage article).
EGGPLANTS. (Solanum melongena) are also known as aubergines. Fortunately, Americans eat very few eggplants. Other cultures like the Thai and Italians eat quite a bit of them. They contain about 8 mg of solanine per 100 g serving, and the amount ranges from about 6 to 11 mg generally. It is very easy to avoid these since they aren't very popular at all.
PEPPERS (Solanaceae family) These are Capsicum genus, and do contain solanine. Most of the peppers eaten are common green bell (sweet) peppers. They come in a variety of colors. The red and yellow bell peppers are simply ripe green ones. They contain about 8 mg of solanine per 100 g serving. These have become a common American staple, and should be avoided. We eat far too much of these.
One reason Americans are so sickly is their heavy intake of these toxic vegetables. One major effect of long term use is arthritis and rheumatism. Clinical studies have shown they promote joint inflammation. Other effects include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, headache, weak pulse, delerium, rapid breathing, and even hallucinations and coma from overuse. Proof of this was shown in the following article. A fine study was published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery (v 12, 1993). 94% of people who gave up nightshades found dramatic relief from their arthritis and joint inflammation. This included 1,400 adult volunteers, over a period of 20 years, with 39 impressive references. Why isn't there more research on such a basic and vital subject? Arthritis is a pandemic that affects 95% of people over the age of 65. There have been recorded incidents of mass poisonings in Europe in the last century when potatoes were used as a daily staple due to lack of other available foods such as wheat, barley, and oats. It really is rather easy to take these four vegetables out of your diet.
Oxalate vegetables need to be mentioned as well. Rhubarb, Swiss chard, spinach, sorrel, amaranth, beet leaves, parsley, purslane, chives, and cassava root contain large amounts of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is only found in very small amounts in some other foods. This contributes to poor health and kidney stones. The oxalic acid binds with the excessive calcium in dairy foods to form these stones. Except for spinach, these are rarely eaten, so it is easy to avoid them.
Use whole grains as your source of complex carbohydrates, instead of potatoes. You should be eating 50% whole grains in your diet. Also avoid tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. This is really easy to do. You'll live longer and be healthier by avoiding Nightshade vegetables. You can be the 5% over the age of 65 without arthritis, rheumatism, or joint inflammation. Read my book Macrobiotics for Americans.
If you want a classic pasta sauce without tomatoes read the article Nomato Sauce in our library. This tastes so much like tomato sauce you will be very surprised.