Your Most Pressing Nutrition Questions, Answered!

Get the answers everyone wants to know about weight loss, vitamin supplements, healthy foods, and more.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #100

Your Nutrition Questions Answered

To celebrate the second anniversary of the Nutrition Diva podcast, I’m devoting this week’s column to answering some of the many interesting questions that readers have sent over the last two years.

Is Kombucha Good For You?

I’ve gotten at least a dozen questions about kombucha, a fermented beverage that’s often said to have miraculous health-enhancing or curative powers. Here’s the scoop on kombucha:

Kombucha is tea that’s been fermented with yeasts and bacteria. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha contain friendly bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy. However, kombucha is not a miracle tonic or a cure for anything, and the FDA has begun sending warning letters to manufacturers and distributors who are making unsupported health claims. Commercial kombucha products are often high in sugar and I suggest limiting your consumption of sweetened beverages—even those dressed up as health foods.

Are Green Potatoes Poisonous?

Martha wrote to ask: “Is it true that it is bad, even poisonous, to eat a potato if it turns green?”

This one has some truth to it. Potatoes are members of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. All of these plants produce a compound called solanine that, when consumed in sufficient amounts, acts as a nerve poison.

The presence of solanine in the leaves and stems of nightshade plants acts as a natural pesticide, dispatching any bugs that nibble too freely on the plant. And even though you’re a lot bigger than that bug, the amount of solanine in potato or tomato leaves might be enough to give you an upset stomach, which is why we don’t eat those parts of the plant.

The fruits of nightshade plants—potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants—generally contain very low levels of solanine, which is why they are safe to eat. But potatoes with greenish skin or with eyes that have started to sprout may contain enough solanine to cause a problem. Best to discard them.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.