We were intrigued when Reddit user hellhound60 posted this interesting tidbit: 20lbs of Eggplant contains as much nicotine as a cigarette.
A little sleuthing revealed that the user derived the information from a 1993 study titled "The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables" by a trio of doctors with the University of Michigan.
Indeed, the researchers found both through their own work and previous studies that nicotine is present in many human foods. While things like green peppers, black tea and tap water from the city Ann Arbor in Michigan came up negative for any amounts of nicotine, other things like potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant -- all plants in the family Solanaceae -- were revealed to contain measurable amounts.
According to a previous study detailed in the 1993 project, 10 grams of eggplant contains 1 µg (microgram) of nicotine -- roughly the same amount one gets from three hours of exposure to second hand smoke. Cigarettes usually contain 1 mg (milligram) of nicotine, which means that a person would have to eat 10 kilograms, or 22.05 pounds, to reach that amount.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post mislabeled the potato/tomato/eggplant family as Solanaceaeuch.
Click through the below slideshow for the amounts of nicotine in other everyday vegetables.
The 1993 study found 3.8 ng/g of nicotine in a cauliflower, which means that a person would have to eat 263.4 grams of it to equal the effects of being in a room with a smoker for three hours. A previous study, however, found that amount to be much greater -- 16.8 ng/g. The latter estimates the same person would eat 59.5 cauliflowers before experiencing the effects of passive smoking.
Perhaps the most interesting information, found in a previous study, is that eating 10 grams of eggplant results in the effects of passive smoking. An eggplant was found to contain 100 ng/g of nicotine. Don't worry just yet, though: You'd have to eat 20 pounds of eggplant before you experience the same effects as smoking one cigarette. That's a lot of eggplant!
The pulp of potatoes was found to contain more nicotine than the potato as a whole. The pulp clocked in at 15.3 ng/g of nicotine in a previous study and required a person to eat 65.4 grams before reaching the same effects of passive smoking. The whole potato registered only 7.1 ng/g in the 1993 study, and required 140.4 grams.
The peel presented much less nicotine in a previous study. It was found to have only 4.8 ng/g of nicotine, meaning a person would have to eat 208 grams.
Green tomatoes had a higher level of nicotine in a previous study-- 42.8 ng/g. Eating 23.4 grams equaled the effect of passive smoking.
The 1993 study found 4.1 ng/g of nicotine in ripe tomatoes. Eating 244 grams equals the effects of passive smoking.
Pureed tomatoes were much higher. A previous study found 52 ng/gram of nicotine. Eating 19.2 grams equals the effects of passive smoking.