Eggplant, also known as Aubergine or Brinjal, is a member of nightshade (Solanaceae) plant, a plant family that includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Like the tomato, eggplant is actually a fruit, but it is commonly thought of and prepare as a vegetable. Native to Indian subcontinent, eggplant is now grown in many tropical and semitropical regions throughout the world.
Eggplant is a versatile fruit that can be grilled, baked, sautéed in olive oil, cooked in soups and even fried. It has a firm meaty texture that makes it a favorite among vegetarians.
Apart from being used in variety of dishes, eggplant is a low-calorie food that’s packed with fiber and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, C, K, & B6, potassium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamin, copper, iron, phosphorous, and folic acid.
Eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, which are known to have powerful antioxidant properties as well as cardiovascular benefits. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include flavonoids, such as nasunin and phenolic compounds, such as caffeic and chlorogenic acid.
Nutritional Value of Eggplant (Cooked, boiled, drained, with salt)
Health Benefits of Eggplant
- Prevent Cancer
Eggplant contains polyphenols, which have anti-cancer properties. They are known to prevent tumor growth and stop the invasion of cancer cells. The fiber presents in eggplant also help remove the toxic substances from the colon thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer.
- Maintain Heart Health
The anthocyanin compounds in eggplant help to prevent oxidative stress to the cardiovascular system and thus reduce the risk of heart disease. Numerous studies confirm that using flavonoids known as anthocyanins perform a notable role in decreasing the chance of cardiovascular disease. Some studies also suggest that the consumption of anthocyanins could significantly lower blood pressure.
- Improve Cognitive Function
Eggplant contains nasunin which protect the lipid in the brain cell membranes and boost brain health. It also assists in the transport of nutrients into the cell and move waste out. This helps prevent age-related mental disorders. The phytonutrient is present in the skin of the eggplant so make sure to have the skin too.
- Weight Management
Eggplant is very low in calories and contains high amount of fibers. Therefore, eating eggplant can help keep the hunger craving away. However, make sure that you do not eat it in the fried form. Have it in baked or in stew form if you wish to lose weight.
- Aids Digestion
Like many other vegetables, eggplant is a great source of dietary fiber, a necessary element for gastrointestinal health, as well as for the regular movement of the bowels. The fiber bulks up your stool so they pass more easily through the digestive tract. It also stimulates the secretion of gastric juices which facilitates the absorption of nutrients and the processing of foods.
- Support Bone Health
Eggplant has vitamin K which improves bone density and reduces the risk of bone fractures, especially in postmenopausal women who are at risk for osteoporosis. Eggplant is also a good source of copper, an essential nutrient for bone health. Deficient intake of copper puts them at risk for developing osteoporosis later in life. This because copper aids in the formation of collagen for connective tissue and bone, thereby contributing to healthy bones.
- Reduce Anemia Risk
Eggplant is rich in iron which is a vital nutrient for the formation of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to every cells of our body. In addition, the copper present in eggplant also plays an important role in reducing the risk of anemia.
- Control Blood Sugar Levels
Due to its high fiber content and low soluble carbohydrate content, eggplants are an ideal food for managing diabetes. Eggplant extracts can inhibit an enzyme that causes type 2 diabetes by controlling glucose absorption and lowering blood pressure which can lead to hypertension.
- Strengthen Immune System
Regular consumption of eggplant is also beneficial for boosting the immune system of our body. The presence of antioxidants like vitamin C can protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, and thus minimizes the risk of various diseases.
- Prevents Birth Defects
Eggplants are a rich source of folic acid and this makes them very beneficial for the pregnant women. The folic acid in eggplant helps protect infants from the birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. In addition to this, folic acid also plays an important role in the growth and development of an infant.
When choosing an eggplant, look for one that has a smooth, unblemished skin. Avoid those with small pits as this indicates that they’re not fresh and any darkening or brown spots indicate bruising.