Eggplant is known as a vegetable having a unique range of health benefits, including an ability to help build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis, reduce the symptoms of anemia, and increase the cognitive function. It improves cardiovascular health and protects the digestive system. The benefits of eggplant also include weight loss, managing diabetes, reducing stress, protecting infants from birth defects, and even preventing cancer.
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What are Eggplants?
Eggplants are fruits native to the Indian subcontinent but are now found throughout the world in different cultural cuisines. In England, they are known as “aubergine”, and are also called brinjal, melongene, 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 in normal agriculture. They reached the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions approximately 800 years ago and were referenced in England by the 16th century.
There are a number of varieties used throughout the world, and they are included in cuisines in many different ways. Although they are fruits, eggplants are commonly called the “king of vegetables”, at least in India, as they are one of the most versatile and functional foods in the cultural gamut. They have the consistency of a tomato, in terms of texture and density and are a perfect addition to soups, stews, and sauces. The best part about these foods is, they are not only a flavorful and delicious addition to many meals but also a massively healthy inclusion that can help you live a healthier life.
Eggplants Nutrition Facts
The wonderful health benefits of eggplants are primarily derived from their vitamin, mineral, and nutrient content. Eggplants are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, and manganese. They also contain almost no cholesterol, or saturated fat.
Health Benefits of Eggplants
Health benefits of eggplant include the following:
Aid in Digestion
Eggplants, like many other vegetables, are great sources of dietary fiber, a necessary element in any balanced diet. Fiber is essential for gastrointestinal health, as well as for the regular bowel movement. It bulks up your bowel movements so they pass 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 stimulates the secretion of gastric juices that facilitate 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 LDL (bad) cholesterol that can clog arteries and veins, resulting in atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Since eggplants contain a minimal amount of fat or cholesterol, they are a very healthy food for people trying to lose weight or battle obesity problems. The fiber is also very filling, which inhibits the release of ghrelin, the hormone which tells our mind that we are hungry again. By filling us up and reducing our appetite, the chances of overeating are greatly reduced, so weight loss attempts are more successful.
Along with the beneficial effects of fiber, eggplants are also great sources of antioxidants, one of the body’s best lines of defense against a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Eggplants contain vitamin C, which is a key part of the immune system since it stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells. Also, eggplants contain manganese, which is a natural antioxidant, and an essential mineral.
Your body can benefit from nasunin and chlorogenic acid, two organic antioxidants that are somewhat unusual but have exhibited inhibitory activity against free radicals, as well as antiviral and antibacterial qualities. Free radicals are the by-products of cellular metabolism that can attack healthy cells and deconstruct the DNA into potentially carcinogenic cells. Having high levels of antioxidants in your body will make sure that organ systems are protected from harmful infections and diseases, including cancer and heart diseases.
Nasunin, which is an anthocyanin, has specifically been linked to inhibiting detrimental behavior in the brain. Free radicals are partially responsible for neural degeneration and the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The studies have mainly focused on the effects of nasunin on animals, but it is a very encouraging news for those suffering from cognitive disorders.
Improve Bone Health
There are a number of benefits to bone health that come from eggplants, which is very good for people at higher risk of bone degradation and osteoporosis. Phenolic compounds 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. Eggplants also have significant amounts of iron and calcium, which are integral to bone health and overall strength. Finally, the amount of potassium in eggplants helps in the uptake of calcium, making eggplants a comprehensive and highly useful booster for osteoporosis and bone health.
A deficiency in iron can be very dangerous to overall health, and it can manifest in anemia. Anemia is characterized by headaches and migraines, fatigue, weakness, depression, and cognitive malfunction. Therefore, eating foods high in iron can combat anemia, and eggplants have a decent amount of iron in their meaty, edible fruit. Eggplants are also very rich in copper, another essential component of red blood cells, just like iron. Without these two minerals, the red blood cell count in the body will continue to decrease, since they are perpetually being used up. 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 or stress.
Improve Brain Function
Eggplants are wonderful sources of phytonutrients, which have long been known as boosters for cognitive activity and general mental health. They not only defend against free radical activity and keep your body and brain safe from toxins and diseases but they also increase blood flow to the brain. By delivering more oxygen-rich blood to the brain, they stimulate neural pathways to develop, boosting the powers of memory and analytic thoughts. The potassium in eggplants also acts as a vasodilator and a brain booster, so overall, they should definitely be called “brain food”.
There are a few different ways through which eggplants benefit your heart health, including fiber, which was mentioned earlier. Secondly, they have been known to reduce the presence of “bad” cholesterol in the body, and stimulate the uptake of “good” cholesterol. The balance of cholesterol in the body is always fluctuating based on the food we eat, but the more HDL (good) cholesterol we have, the better. Reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol 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, greatly improving the health and durability of your heart.
Due to their high-fiber content and low amounts of soluble carbohydrates, eggplants are an ideal food for managing diabetes. The qualities of eggplants 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, so the potentially dangerous side effects of diabetes can be avoided.
Prevent Birth Defect
Eggplants are a rich source of folic acid, which makes a delicious and useful snack or dietary addition for pregnant women. Folates are essential parts of any diet, and folic acid is particularly beneficial for pregnant women. Folic acid directly protects infants from neural tube defects, which can manifest in a number of ways. Therefore, it is always recommended that expecting mothers can increase their intake of folic acid considering their other dependent inside the womb!
Word of Caution: Eggplants are a part of the nightshade family of vegetables and are known to cause severe allergic reactions. However, they aren’t as common in terms of being an allergen as tomatoes or bell peppers, which are also considered nightshade. 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, if any.
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 the health benefits and can cause weight gain and negatively impact heart conditions. When you fry eggplants, 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 your long-lasting health!