Before we all go running off half-cocked into the night, screaming and yelling “Don’t feed nightshade foods to your birds because they are toxic!”, let’s all make sure we know what we are claiming, shall we???
The “toxin”, as the old wives’ tale goes is scientifically known as “solanine.” It’s classification is as a glycoalkaloid, which in terribly huge amounts can be toxic to a living creature, yes. However, Nature in all her wisdom has placed alkaloids in plants to ward off pests as plants grow. Pretty smart thinking on Nature’s part. Once we get below the skin of the plant we have gone passed where most of the toxin is present. Interesting thing about birds, in the wild, and given the opportunity in our homes, they peel the skin of fruits off before they eat the fruit anyway.
So hand your beloved parrot a piece of a “nightshade” fruit and first of all it will not contain enough solanine to cause a toxic reaction; secondly your parrot will have the instinct to peel the skin off deep enough to rid the fruit of the toxin!
Let’s get down to the real nitty-gritty: Do we really know just how many scrumptious and nutritious foods we would have to throw out of our parrots’ diets if we erased all nightshade plants from the list of foods we feed our birds?
Take a look at just some of the foods we would have to remove:
Yes, all of these foods are nightshades!
Now I know many of you religiously feed chili pepper to your birds, and bell pepper as well. We can’t be selective and say it’s okay to feed these nightshades and not feed the others when both contain solanine. This constituent is too toxic to feed, or it’s not. We’re told to feed foods that are deep, dark and rich in reds and purples, but then told not to feed nightshades? Nightshades are abundant in those colors!
The facts are, these foods are very nutritious; they are high in beta-carotenes, vital fatty acids, vitamins and minerals our birds require to thrive. Our birds instinctively know to peel the skins (cellulose) off before consuming these foods and thus are removing most of the solanine anyway. Please don’t allow an old wives’ tale get in the way of your beloved feathered companion from consuming healthy, nutritious, raw foods Nature has supplied for your bird to enjoy and experience tip-top health!
Ref: http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/06/23/nightshade-free-survival-guide; http://nightshadejournal.com/2010/12/my-complete-listing-of-nightshades-and-foods-that-contain-solanine; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=62.
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