Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Is Celeriac a Nightshade Vegetable?
Is celeriac a nightshade vegetable? Nightshades are a family of plants that includes more than 2,000 species. Some people avoid nightshade vegetables because they're afraid of the alkaloids they contain. The most common alkaloid found in nightshade vegetables is solanine—an organic compound that’s poisonous if consumed in excessive amounts.
However, some people believe that low levels of alkaloids in nightshade plants can worsen inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, and avoid them for that reason.
Yet the science does not support this. There is anecdotal evidence that nightshades make inflammatory conditions worse, but there’s little research showing a definite link between nightshade vegetables and negative health effects.
The nightshade family includes many popular foods such as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, goji berries, and eggplant. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and calcium. They also contain phytonutrients, which have antioxidant activity.
What Is Celeriac?
Celeriac, also called celery root or knob celery, is a root vegetable that resembles a turnip. Although not well-known in the United States, celeriac is popular in Europe and South America. The fleshy part of this root vegetable is often used in soups and stews because it adds creaminess without adding fat or calories.
You can eat celeriac raw or cooked. When raw, it has an earthy flavor like turnips or radishes, but it is milder than either one of those vegetables.
Cooking removes most of its flavor and allows it to take on the flavor of the sauce, spices, and herbs you add to the pot. Some people use celeriac as a substitute for potatoes. Celeriac has the advantage of being lower in carbohydrates.
Is Celeriac a Nightshade Vegetable?
If you have celeriac in your kitchen, or if you buy it at the grocery store for tonight's dinner then you're probably curious about whether celeriac is a member of the nightshade family.
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If you read up on edible plants and their nutritional properties, you would see that celeriac belongs to the Apiaceae family—a group of herbs and vegetables that includes carrots, fennel, dill weed, cilantro (also known as coriander) and parsley.
Although celeriac is a root vegetable, it is not a nightshade vegetable and does not contain solanine, like other nightshade vegetables. Therefore, people who don’t consume nightshade vegetables can eat celeriac, although it’s best to talk to a doctor or nutritionist about what to eat if you have medical problems or take medications.
Avoid Eating the Leaves
It’s best to avoid eating the leaves of celeriac, though, since they contain large quantities of oxalates. Oxalates are compounds that reduce calcium absorption when you consume them with a meal. In addition, consuming lots of oxalates increases the risk of the most common type of kidney stone. The celeriac vegetable itself is not high in oxalates.
Celeriac provides a good amount of fiber and is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, and B vitamins. It contains some antioxidant compounds as well as phthalide, a natural chemical that may lower blood pressure. Phthalides are also in celery, a close relative of celeriac.
How to Cook With Celeriac
Celeriac is a versatile vegetable that can be used in many ways. Here are some suggestions:
- Roast it in chunks for a tasty side dish that goes well with meat or fish.
- Make mashed celeriac with olive oil, garlic, and butter for a low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
- Add raw grated celeriac to soups and stews or salads for crunch and extra nutrients.
- Sautee chopped celeriac with onions, garlic, thyme, and white wine for a delicious side dish that pairs well with roasted meats or fish, rice, or pasta dishes.
- Use grated raw celeriac in homemade coleslaw (with cabbage), potato salad or tuna salad instead of shredded cabbage or carrots for added fiber and nutrients (and fewer carbs).
- Juice fresh celeriac stalks and leaves for a healthy drink that tastes like cucumber-celery juice but has more nutrients than either one alone!
- Make homemade celeriac chips in the oven or dehydrator.
Is celeriac a nightshade vegetable? You don’t have to worry about the health risks of nightshades when you eat celeriac. It’s naturally low in carbohydrates, contains a variety of nutrients and fiber, and contains none of that pesky solanine!
"Celeriac (Celery Root): Nutrition, Benefits and Uses - Healthline." 11 Dec. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/celeriac.
"Celeriac - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics." https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/celeriac.
"Celeriac, raw nutrition facts and analysis.." https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Celeriac%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html.
"Calcium Oxalate Stones | National Kidney Foundation." https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/calcium-oxalate-stone."Natural Hypertension Alternatives - Phthalides." http://www.phthalides.com/hypertension.html.