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You say tomato, but Tom Brady says toxic

You say tomato, but Tom Brady says toxic

Are tomatoes bad for you? What about potatoes, eggplant and peppers?

Of course not, you might say. But would you change your mind if Tom Brady told you to avoid these foods?

Allen Campbell, private chef to the Patriots star quarterback, says he conspicuously avoids using these “nightshade vegetables” into dishes he creates for Brady and his wife, model Giselle Bundchen.

Nightshades are a family of plants with certain common characteristics, such as the shape of their flowers and arrangement of their seeds, including tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplant.

In a recent interview for the Boston Globe, Campbell described a diet based on organic produce, heavy on whole grains and beans, light on lean meat, and avoidance of white sugar, white flour, coffee, mushrooms and dairy products.

While he serves the power couple and their kids fruits and vegetables, he says Tom draws the line at nightshades because “they’re not anti-inflammatory” and that tomatoes “cause inflammation.”

So, do they?

“There’s not a lot of conclusive evidence that they’re harmful,” said Courtney Driscoll-Shea, a licensed dietitian and nutritionist who oversees the dietitians at Falmouth and Cape Cod hospitals. “We try to go by something that’s evidence-based and has science behind it,” she continued.

So-called nightshades probably got their bad rep from belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, which contains toxic alkaloids that can cause delirium, and another member of the group, tobacco, which contains nicotine.

One of the commonly eaten nightshades vegetables is the potato, which, if green and sprouting, might make you ill if consumed in large enough amounts. Sweet potatoes and yams are unrelated to nightshades.

“The thing with fruits and vegetables is that it’s hard for people to overeat them – they’re full of fiber and fill you up,” Driscoll-Shea said.

She added that it’s relatively easy to recommend cutting back on something like sugar, but that “it gets tricky when you narrow down to these micro-nutrients.”

Some holistic practitioners say nightshades fruits and vegetables can worsen arthritis, an inflammatory disease. The Arthritis Foundation calls that a myth and says the vegetables contain essential nutrients that “lowered blood markers for inflammation in healthy men,” according to the group’s website.

Even though these plants are all members of the nightshade family, they don’t all contain solanine, the alkaloid implicated by many alternative medicine practitioners, according to Best Health magazine.

Eating these vegetables will not cause migraines, worsen osteoporosis nor increase arthritis pain, though these ills are sometimes blamed on them, according to the magazine.

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Earlier this month Riverview School's Cape Cod Hospital Project SEARCH students met with Cape Cod Healthcare President and CEO, Mike Lauf. The Project SEARCH program continues to be an amazing partnership loved by students and hospital staff!

Earlier this month Riverview School's Cape Cod Hospital Project SEARCH students met with Cape Cod Healthcare President and CEO, Mike Lauf. The Project SEARCH program continues to be an amazing partnership loved by students and hospital staff!