Tomatoes and Arthritis

by Edella from England

Note: Edella wrote what you're about to read as a result of a discussion on the 21 Days to Health & Beyond suport list when we were discussing the connection between tomatoes and arthritis. Although many people don't know it, if you have arthritis, you can make it worse by eating members of the nightshade family. -- Chet

Tomatoes are members of the solanaceae, which is an immense, large family of plants with 'good guys and bad guys' in it, but I guess from my point of view, it's a plant family that can have a strong effect on us sometimes which can also give us a lot of culinary pleasure at other times.

My favourite 'poison dish' is ratatouille which has in it tomatoes, aubergines and peppers! (You could probably throw in a few potatoes for the grand slam!)

Info: the family solanaceae -
The nightshade family produces a very valuable range of vegetables, almost all developed in central and South America. Potatoes, tomatoes and peppers were all unknown in Europe and Asia until the Spaniards brought back seeds from Mexico and Columbia in the fifteenth century.

But they quickly became important food crops, especially potato - only 500 gms of cooked new potato gives you your daily requirement of vitamin C and niacin, and, unlike most vegetables, boiling doesn't kill off the vitamins.

As the poor Irish families ate them in the last century, boiled with some cream or butter and cabbage on the side, potatoes were a healthy and sustaining diet. (The tragedy was their proneness to disease.)

The Spanish and Portugese introduced sweet and hot peppers to India, probably via Goa - before then Indian food was based on ground black peppers and other spices for 'heat'.

Now hot peppers are used extensively all over Asia. The probability is that Asian food has changed a lot because of this new dependence, becoming very much more highly spiced in an attempt to balance the traditional 'spice combinations.'

I've tried very traditional non-chili pepper recipes -- they are hot, very aromatic, but warming rather than blistering the mouth.

Many of these foods were at first viewed with great suspicion, as the leaves and fruits of the European members of the family were mostly extremely poisonous. The only edible solanum which originated outside America was the aubergine, thought to be a native of India.

Non-edible members of the family include tobacco and deadly nightshade, the huckleberry and woody nightshade.

Many of the non-edibles were traditional medicines, and deadly nightshade is our friend belladonna - named because Italian ladies made a solution for their eyes - it gave them large expanded irises - hence belladonna! It's still used in eye drops when you go to have your eyes tested.

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