Foods from around the world can be a bit of a mystery. If you don’t see it every day, it’s natural not to think about it – they don’t say, “out of sight, out of mind” for no reason, after all.
This means that, when you do encounter international foods like wasabi, you probably don’t know all that much about them. That may lead to many questions, such as whether or not wasabi is a nightshade.
At Thrive Cuisine, we believe in understanding the foods we eat. That’s why we’ll take a look at that question and more in this quick wasabi and nightshade guide.
Quick Answer: Is Wasabi a Nightshade?
No, wasabi isn’t a nightshade. Wasabi actually belongs to a family of plants called Brassicaceae, which includes such famous members as mustard and horseradish.
The confusion over wasabi’s nightshade status might come from the general reputation of nightshade foods as being spicy. Wasabi is indeed spicy, but that’s because it has allyl isothiocyanate in it, which can also be found in mustard.
Read More: Is Wasabi a Radish?
Which Spices are Nightshades?
You may have come across the phrase “nightshade spices” online. If so, you might be more than a little curious about which spices are actually considered nightshade spices and what the phrase means.
Nightshade spices are spices which come from the nightshade family of plants, also known as Solanaceae. This family of plants has a nasty reputation for being poisonous, but that isn’t true for all nightshade plants. In fact, some extremely common household foods, such as tomatoes and eggplants, are nightshades!
Some examples of spices that are nightshade spices include cayenne, chili pepper, chili powder, curry powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes.
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What Qualifies as a Nightshade?
Now you understand that wasabi is not a nightshade, and you know some spices that are nightshades. So what makes a particular plant a nightshade or not?
The answer comes down to what’s inside the plant. Nightshades come from a specific family of foods that usually have alkaloids in them. Some alkaloids are toxic, which is why the word “nightshade” has such a dark connotation, but there are also many nightshade plants that you’ve probably eaten before.
Examples include tomatoes, chili peppers, and even potatoes. In other words, if you hear a food described as “nightshade,” there isn’t necessarily always a reason to be concerned about it.
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Wasabi is many things – including piquant, powerful, and ultimately delicious – but it is not a nightshade. It’s important to classify the foods we eat properly and make such distinctions, so we understand what we’re eating.
Want to learn more about wasabi? You can read about the flavor of authentic wasabi in our guide to what real wasabi tastes like.