Nicotine is one of the most harmful and toxic substances ever discovered. They are highly addictive and harmful to the body. That is why smoking cigarettes and tobaccos is a hard habit to break due to its nicotine content. However, what if it is not only found in cigarettes? What if the vegetables and beverages that we usually eat or drink every day contain some amounts of nicotine? Would you still buy them knowing that they hold a few nicotine alkaloids?
Here are a few common vegetables and plants, mostly from the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, shown to have nicotine content.
1. TomatoesAn average tomato has a nicotine concentration of 7.1 -7.3 ng/g. It means there is a 7.1 ng of nicotine in ever 1 gram of tomato. Findings also show that the nicotine level decreases as the tomato ripens. Tomato, belonging to the Solanaceae family, is found to possess a nicotine alkaloid called tomatine.
2. PotatoesAn average potato has a nicotine concentration of 15 ng/g. This concentration is considerably higher in green and sprouting potatoes with a reported 42.8 ng/g compared to the 4.3 ng/g in ripe potatoes. However, pureed potatoes have higher nicotine content with a measurement of 52 ng/g. Potatoes also contain a nicotine alkaloid called solanine, which is highly concentrated on its skin. High levels of solanine are actually fatal posing considerable health risks.
3. EggplantsEggplants (aubergines) have a concentration of 100 ng/g of nicotine. It is second highest next to tobacco among the nightshade family where nicotine alkaloids are commonly present. In simple terms, 10 kg of eggplant has the same nicotine content of a stick of cigarette. This only means that the nicotine content of eggplants is negligible compared to passive smoking.
According to research, green and black teas also contain small amounts of nicotine whether regular or decaffeinated. Studies show that black teas appear to have a non-detectable to 100ng /g nicotine concentration. Compared to brewed teas, instant teas show higher nicotine content with a concentration of up to 285 ng/g.
5. Peppers and CapsicumsPeppers and capsicums also contain solanine and solanidine, nicotine alkaloids, just like the other nightshade family plants. Common peppers have a solanine concentration of 7.7 – 9.2 mg per 100 grams serving.
Surprisingly, even cauliflowers, which are not part of the nightshade family, also contain nicotine. Research findings gave cauliflower a nicotine content of 16.8 ng/g.
Shocking right? Even though they may have lower nicotine level, they may still compromise the health of the consumers. While we may all believe that these nicotine content are insignificant, it is still highly possible that some individuals will be sensitive to some nicotine alkaloids that might cause health problems in the future. It is not entirely proper to just ignore them.
However, do not get the wrong idea here. While it is true that nicotine is harmful to the body, these foods are still edible regardless of its nicotine level. If you are worrying that you might get addicted to its nicotine alkaloids, it is not most likely to happen. Why? It is mainly due to the fact that the nicotine content is insignificantly low especially compared to tobacco. Aside from that, other factors may affect the absorption of these nicotine alkaloids. Ingestion is different from inhalation or smoking. Proper cooking may diffuse nicotine alkaloids in the water, careful picking of the time (ripeness) and method of eating or decreasing the dietary intake are ways in reducing the nicotine content, if not totally getting rid of.
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