Eggplants are fruits originally native to the Indian subcontinent and now found throughout the world in different cuisines. While often considered a vegetable, it is actually a fruit. It is also known as brinjal, melongene, aubergine, and guinea squash. These purple or black glossy fruits can grow more than a foot in length in wild varieties, though they are considerably smaller generally.
Eggplants have a range of health benefits, which may include the ability to help build strong bones, reduce the symptoms of anemia, and increase cognition. Eggplant is also good for weight loss, managing diabetes, improving cardiovascular health and the digestive system.
What are Eggplants?
There are many varieties of eggplants that are used throughout the world, and they are included in different cuisines in many ways. Although they are technically fruits, eggplants are called the ‘king of vegetables’ in India. It is one of the most popular, versatile, and functional foods in Indian cuisine. In terms of texture and density, they have the consistency of tomato. They are perfect by themselves or added to stews and curries. So, eggplants are not just a delicious addition to any meal, they are also a healthy inclusion to any diet.
Eggplants Nutrition Facts
The wonderful health benefits of eggplants are primarily derived from their vitamin, mineral, and nutrient content. According to the USDA, eggplants have a high water content with almost no cholesterol or fat and are a source of vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, and manganese.
|Serving Size :|
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.18|
|Carbohydrate, by difference [g]||5.88|
|Fiber, total dietary [g]||3|
|Sugars, total including NLEA [g]||3.53|
|Glucose (dextrose) [g]||1.58|
|Calcium, Ca [mg]||9|
|Iron, Fe [mg]||0.23|
|Magnesium, Mg [mg]||14|
|Phosphorus, P [mg]||24|
|Potassium, K [mg]||229|
|Sodium, Na [mg]||2|
|Zinc, Zn [mg]||0.16|
|Copper, Cu [mg]||0.08|
|Manganese, Mn [mg]||0.23|
|Selenium, Se [µg]||0.3|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]||2.2|
|Pantothenic acid [mg]||0.28|
|Vitamin B-6 [mg]||0.08|
|Folate, total [µg]||22|
|Folate, food [µg]||22|
|Folate, DFE [µg]||22|
|Choline, total [mg]||6.9|
|Vitamin A, RAE [µg]||1|
|Carotene, beta [µg]||14|
|Vitamin A, IU [IU]||23|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]||36|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]||0.3|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]||3.5|
|Fatty acids, total saturated [g]||0.03|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]||0.02|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]||0.08|
|Aspartic acid [g]||0.16|
|Glutamic acid [g]||0.19|
|Sources include : USDA|
Ways to Eat Eggplant
- Bake – Slice the eggplant into strips and bake them, or cut into a round shape, add a breadcrumb spiced coating, and then bake them for a crunchy taste.
- Mash into a dip – Scoop the cooked eggplant and easily mash it or puree into a dip. It has a thick, creamy texture, with a smoky tinge and makes it a good accompaniment with pita bread. The classic baba ghanoush is made with roasted eggplants with tahini sauce, garlic, and virgin olive oil.
- Roast – This is one of the easiest and delicious ways to cook eggplant. All that is required is a hot oven, few drops of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to transform eggplant into a rich, soft, and creamy treat.
- In curries – The fleshy eggplants is a great addition to almost any curry, giving them a more-ish feel, while adding to the overall deliciousness. You can just dice up the eggplants and add it to a chicken or fish curry. It’s ideal for a vegetable curry.
- With pasta – The Italians clearly love their eggplants. Although most of us think of the grilled eggplants when it comes to Italian cuisine, Pasta alla Norma, a traditional Sicilian pasta dish is made with eggplants.
Health Benefits of Eggplants
Health benefits of eggplant include the following:
May Aid in Digestion
Eggplants, like many other vegetables, are good sources of dietary fiber, a necessary element in any balanced diet. Fiber can be essential for gastrointestinal health, as well as for regular bowel movements. It bulks up your stool so it passes more easily through the digestive tract, while also stimulating peristaltic motion, the contraction of the smooth muscles that help food pushed out of the body. Finally, fiber may also stimulate the secretion of gastric juices that facilitate the absorption of nutrients and the processing of foods.
Fiber has also been linked to the reduction in heart diseases as well, since it eliminates some of the bad LDL cholesterol that can clog arteries and veins, resulting in atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
May Aid in Weight Loss
Dietary fiber intake, particularly in the United States, is lacking. The American Heart Association recommends 25–30 grams per day for a 2000 calorie diet. Hence, one must make an effort to increase dietary fiber intake. Since eggplants may contain a minimal amount of fat or cholesterol and high water content, they are very healthy food for people trying to lose weight or battling obesity. Fiber is also very filling, which means it inhibits the release of ghrelin, the hormone which tells our mind that we are hungry again. By filling us up, eggplant is one of the foods that help reduce our appetite. This diminishes the chances of overeating, so weight loss attempts are more successful.
May Have an Anti-cancer Potential
Solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides, an extract found in eggplant peel, has shown potential as a topical treatment in killing skin cancer cells. An article in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine reported two case studies where eggplant extract was used successfully to treat non-melanoma skin cancers.
May Improve Bone Health
Eggplants are very good for people at a high risk of bone degradation and osteoporosis. Why? They contain phenolic compounds, which are what give eggplants and many other fruits their unique coloration. These compounds have also been linked to reduced signs of osteoporosis, stronger bones, and increased bone mineral density in certain populations. Eggplants also have significant amounts of iron and calcium, also integral to bone health and overall strength.
May Help Prevent Anemia
A deficiency in iron can be very dangerous to overall health, and it can manifest as anemia. Anemia is characterized by headaches (some at a migraine level), fatigue, weakness, depression, and even cognitive malfunction. Therefore, eating foods high in iron may help combat anemia, and eggplants are iron-containing food. Eggplants are also potentially rich in copper, another essential component of red blood cells (RBCs), just like iron. Without these two minerals, the red blood cells in the body cannot function normally. With healthier red blood cells coursing through your veins, you will see a noticeable boost in energy and strength, which will eliminate feelings of fatigue
Might Improve Brain Function
Eggplants are wonderful sources of phytonutrients, which are believed to boost cognitive activity and general mental health. They can not only defend against free radical activity but may also increase blood flow to the brain. Phytonutrients and potassium–which acts as a vasodilator assisting in widening blood vessels–could be considered “brain boosters,” delivering more oxygen-rich blood to the brain.
Can Improve Heart Health
There are different ways through which eggplants benefit your heart health, one of which is the fiber content. They can reduce the presence of bad LDL cholesterol in the body, and stimulate the uptake of good HDL cholesterol. The balance of cholesterol in the body is constantly fluctuating based on the foods we eat and conveyed using a ratio (total cholesterol to HDL ratio). The more HDL cholesterol we have, the better. Reducing LDL cholesterol levels can prevent heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis. Finally, the bioflavonoids in eggplants are great for reducing blood pressure, which reduces the strain and stress on the cardiovascular system, thereby improving the health of your heart.
May Help You Manage Diabetes
The National Diabetes Education Program of NIH and the American Diabetes Association recommends an eggplant-based diet as a choice for the management of type 2 diabetes. Due to their potentially high-fiber content and low amounts of soluble carbohydrates, eggplants are an ideal food for managing this disease. The qualities of eggplants may make them useful as a regulator of glucose and insulin activity within the body. When insulin levels are stable and the body isn’t experiencing drastic plunges and spikes in blood sugar, the potentially dangerous side effects of diabetes can be avoided.
May Prevent Birth Defects
Eggplants are a rich source of folic acid, which makes them ideal for pregnant women. Adequate amounts of folic acid are known to directly protect infants from neural tube defects, which can occur in a number of ways. Therefore, it is always recommended that expecting mothers keep a track of their folic acid intake.
Word of Caution: Eggplants are a part of the nightshade family – which also include tomato and bell peppers – and in some cases are known to cause severe allergic reactions. As with any new food in your diet, speak to your doctor before eating it in large quantities and pay attention to your body’s reactions.
Secondly, when cooking eggplants, many people make the mistake of frying them. Although this is a delicious way to cook vegetables like eggplants, it also counteracts a number of health benefits if using heavy oils for frying. When you fry eggplant, they absorb a large amount of fat, whereas baking an eggplant will hold many of the nutrients in without any negative additions like excess fat.
Other than that, this powerful and potent vegetable is one of the best ways to guarantee long-lasting health!