TPM Tidbit: Are There Other (Non-Nightshade) Food Sources of Solanine?

August 29, 2012 in Categories: , , by

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Last week, Paleo Parentsand I released Episode 2 of The Paleo View, the topic of which was the Autoimmune Protocol.  In conjunction with this, I posted my explanation of why nightshades can be problematic for those with autoimmune disease (and also why it is a common food sensitivity).  I received a fascinating comment from Tina that launched me into several hours of research.  Here is what Tina wrote:

“I’ve used Balanced Bites’ Nightshades Guide as my info source for what is a nightshade and what is not. She indicates blueberries, huckleberries, okra, and artichokes have properties similar to nightshades, but you and Stacy both mentioned blueberries as a great snack. Do you feel these foods should be removed initially with the autoimmune protocol with the nightshades?”

This is a great question!  I found dozens of websites (in addition to Balanced Bites) that list blueberries, huckleberries, okra, and artichokes as sources of the glycoalkaloid solanine (which is found in potatoes and eggplants).  I also found many websites that listed apples and sugar beets as sources of solanine (some websites also list cherries but this is confusion with ground cherries, which are a member of the nightshade family).  If solanine is indeed found in these fruits and vegetables, this is cause for concern for those sensitive to nightshades.

I could not find a single website with a citation for blueberries, huckleberries, okra or artichokes containing solanine.  All of the websites cite each other and simply provide this list as fact.  I also could not find a single scientific paper that discussed the presence of solanine in these fruits and vegetables.  I did however find a handful of scientific articles that listed apples and sugar beets as sources of solanine.  These articles all reference back to a single paper published in the magazine Food Technology in 1991.  My wonderful husband was able to track down this original article for me (yay for university libraries).  The original article has nothing to do with apples, sugar beets, OR solanine (although it does measure amylase inhibitors in beans, which is interesting).  After my exhaustive research, I feel comfortable making the following statement:  there is NO scientific evidence that solanine (or any other glycoalkaloid) is present in any fruit or vegetable that is not a member of the nightshade family.

This is good news for those with reasons to avoid nightshades.  No, there are not any additional fruits or vegetables that need to be avoided. 


I’ve been concerned about solanine in meats where the animal was fed potatoes but can’t document it. I became concerned after having an acute attack of costochondritis (inflammation of joints of ribs to breastbone and my rapid reaction to eating tiny amounts of nightshades) after eating pork several years ago, but not all pork. I now find a source of grass-fed beef where the website says the animals also receive potatoes grown on their site. I may not want this beef anyway, but the question remains: Can solanine collect in the meat of animals fed solanine containing potatoes, etc.

I am concerned that people dont realize HONEY more so than milk and eggs is harvested by the animal from plants… then prepared for their young to eat. I feel like with 2800 Nightshade plants there are more than my share here in our area and sweetening with honey is out of the question for me. I have strong and deffinate bad results from all nightshades. I dont want that pain back.

Thank you SO MUCH for clarifying whether or not apples (and some other fruits) contain solanine. So much misinformation online… :)

p.s. as for the ‘sciencebasedmedicine’ link. They should rename it ‘drugbasedmedicine’, in my humble opinion.

You may want to reconsider your investigation into the relationship between blueberries, and solanine. In May of last year, I mowed through a small patch of silver leaf nightshade; something I have done hundreds of time over the years without so much as a sneeze.
This time, I reacted violently and nearly died of anaphylaxis.
The only difference in my diet had been the addition of 1 cup of blueberries twice a day for two weeks prior to the incident.
Blueberries do contain solanine! It is quite possible that the solanine content is higher in unripe blueberries, just as it is in unripe apples and that the blueberries I had consumed were not completely ripe. None the less, the solanine was present and because solanine has a tendency to leave a residual that can build up over time, it only took a small amount of the silver leaf to touch off the powder keg inside me.
It would be helpful for anyone concerned with nightshades to study the residual build up of solanine in the human body.

Hi. Could you provide me the title of the paper from Food Technology you found? I’d like to obtain it and review it. Perhaps the other papers that were referencing this? Thanks.

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