Should I Avoid Blueberries On The AIP?

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 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.

Have you been tested for Alphagal…the mammalian allergy? My hubs has this and has terrible costochondritis like what you described if he eats any mammalian product. You can contract this from a tick bite.

I also have this meat allergy.. It almost killed me twice. Before diagnosed. … Shock sets in about 5 or 6 hours after ingestion of mammalian meat.. Starts with hives, ends in anaphylaxis … Also bit by a tick.. My titter has decreased from 98 to 1.4 over 6 years,but still cannot chance mammalian meat.. Carry epi pen at all times. Very under diagnosed and lethal… Alphagal allergy.

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.

Yes, there is scientific evidence that foods not within the nightshade family contain solanine, the substance that primarily causes the reaction to nightshade foods. For example, take a look at the chemical testing report on apples. the testing indicates that apples contain about 1/2 the amount of solanine as potatoes contain.

For someone, such as myself, who is extremely sensitive and reactive to solanine, it is clear that other vegetables such as artichokes contain solanine even though not a nightshade. The onset of my symptoms (arthritis like pain in joints and connective tissue, digestive distress, sweating and a skin rash is quick and (minutes to a few hours) and persistent 3 (3-6 days) after I have eaten, even unknowingly, solanine-containing foods. Reading the websites that claim there is no human sensitivity to nightshades is both amusing and distressing, because of the self-styled “evidence-bases” experts who really know nothing about this subject.

The website with the chemical testing results of apples is found at…/chaconinesolanine

Hi Arthur
If you are referring to this article

I read it and did not see any references to the actual solanine content of apples, just a statement that “apples… contain solaline” with a citation to the 1991 Food Technology article that Paleo Mom says doesn’t contain any relevant info on solanine.

Can you point me to a specific scientific article (and page #) where the solanine content of apples is documented? (not trying to be argumentative, just want to get to the truth)


I react to blueberries (or huckleberries?) with rashes and hives. Nightshades I seem to tolerate in general. What is problematic for me are acids like citric, oxalic and maybe benzoic acid and when I´m extremely sensitive even ascorbic acid. But blueberries are still exceptionel for me and I keep asking myself what is different with them (they do definitely contain oxalic and citric acid but not soo extremely high, there are higher foods which I tolerate quite well). I also react strangely to artichokes and apples (all foods which I used to tolerate) which I thought was due to excess fructose but I still feel that there´s sth else. I am really alarmed because the foods that you mentioned in you article are exactly these last foods that I´m not totally understanding and where my reactions don´t make sense!

It took years after being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis to figure out that I had also become “allergic” to all the nightshades. Within 20 minutes of eating them, I have a painful reaction in my muscles and tendons. This SAME reaction also happens when I eat BLUEBERRIES, HUCKLEBERRIES, APPLES, SUGAR BEETS AND ARTICHOKE . I’ve read comments from others with psoriatic arthritis that they also react to blueberries and apples, perhaps they don’t eat the other vegetables or haven’t made the connection. (I never eat okra. I can eat cherries without having any problems.) I realized last summer that I also have same reaction when eating BLACKBERRIES in larger quantities.

You may not have found scientific research confirming these non-nightshades have solanine. But which is more likely…that they DO have this glycoalkaloid commonly found in nightshades, or they have another chemical agent that produces the exact same symptoms in people intolerant of nightshades?

Instead of dismissing it entirely, it would be prudent for you to report on the anecdotal evidence so people struggling with this food sensitivity aren’t lead astray because you haven’t found the “proof” so therefore declare them safe.

People with nightshade intolerance also react to GMOs. Dr. Childers, who discovered nightshade intolerance, reported he & others had severe reactions to what was probably Bt corn and Bt cottonseed oil in the 1990’s, since they’d never reacted to either of these foods before and Bt crops had just hit the commercial market..

HI There,
can someone confirm whether this refers to Jerusalem artichokes, or globe artichokes? I too am extremely nightshade sensitive and react badly to blueberries as well (I didn’t know about the others, but it would explain a few things!). I am also wondering if anyone has had a problem with Amla – otherwise known as Indian Gooseberry. I have a vitamin C supplement containing Amla, and I’m 99% sure I react to it, and the other ingredients are definitely not the culprit. Other’s experiences would be appreciated – I do not trust the “there is no scientific evidence to support this” argument, because so many people have experienced it.

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