For most people, an eggplant is just an eggplant. Nothing more than a scrumptious earthy-tasting plant that can be integrated into a wide range of recipes.
But there are many names for and rumors about this plant. One name you might have heard is nightshade, and you may have heard some people saying that it’s dangerous to eat.
In this post, we’ll explore the reasons behind why eggplant is called a nightshade. We’ll also investigate whether or not eggplant and other nightshade plants are bad for you.
Quick Answer: Why is Eggplant Called a Nightshade?
Eggplant gets its nickname name from the family it’s part of: the solanaceae, or nightshade family. This family also famously includes the deadly nightshade plant, Atropa Belladonna.
Read Also: Why is Eggplant a Berry?
Where Does the Name Nightshade Come From?
There are quite a few theories about where the word nightshade originates from.
Some say that the name comes from the fact that a few plants in the solanaceae family like to grow in shaded places or even at night. Others say that the name might come from the family’s mystical past, as many of the plants within it have historically been connected to witchcraft practices.
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The Latin name, solanaceae, is a lot easier to explain. If you know any other Latin languages, such as Spanish, you might recognize the beginning of the world, sol, which refers to the sun.
There’s even one plant in the solanaceae family called a sunberry. It’s an interesting contrast between the Latin name and the nickname of nightshade.
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Are Nightshades Bad for You?
Some naturopathic practitioners will tell you that nightshade plants, including eggplants, tomatoes, and white potatoes, aren’t very good for you. These naturopaths commonly believe that these plants are linked to migraines and arthritis.
Others might feel that any edible plants from the solanaceae family must be dangerous, because of their relation to the deadly nightshade plant.
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Is any of that true?
Fortunately for eggplant fans, there isn’t really scientific evidence to support those claims. In fact, there’s evidence to the contrary, especially when it comes to eggplants.
Eggplants are a great way to meet your daily fiber intake. They also have a decent measure of protein in them, which leads to them being a very filling entrée.
That being said, it’s really only the fruit part of eggplant that you should be eating. The flowers and leaves of the plant can be toxic when eaten in large doses.
The same can actually be said for potatoes, pepper, and tomatoes.
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If you knew about the deadly nightshade plant, it can be kind of scary to hear that eggplants are in the same family. You might begin to worry that you’re putting your health at risk whenever you indulge in a tasty eggplant recipe.
The bottom line is, eggplant isn’t bad for you. It’s perfectly healthy and safe to eat, provided you avoid eating the leaves and flowers.
Curious how certain fruits and vegetables got their names? Check out this related article: Why are Limes Called Lemons in Mexico?