Here introducing ‘Eggplants’ which are also known as aubergines, melongene, garden egg, guinea squash and brinjal. Originally eggplants belong to the nightshade family of plants like potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers.
Although we often consider eggplants as vegetables, they’re technically a fruit. Because they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds. Eggplants are the most favorite ingredients in many delicious cuisines for food-lovers around the world.
Basically, eggplants come from India and other Asian continents, where these still grow abundantly. During the 7th and 8th centuries, eggplants made their way to Europe with the Islamic empire. Historians strongly believe that the British invented the term eggplant during their occupation of India.
Excellent Varieties of Eggplants
We usually know about the glossy, purple, teardrop-shaped eggplant, but this versatile vegetable exists in the countless varieties of shapes and colors. While digging a little deeper at the local farmers market, we will surprisingly find oval, long and thin, melon-shaped eggplants. Amazingly, these eggplants come with white, pink, orange, green, and even striped skin.
We picked 10 of our favorite eggplants to share so the next time you can choose whichever you may find at the market:
- Italian Eggplant: The familiar globe eggplant with shiny purple skin, smaller in size, but quite large and fat
- Epic Eggplant: The usual teardrop-shaped with dusky purple-black skin
- Graffiti Eggplant: Also known as Sicilian eggplant, comes with purple and white stripes
- Fairy Tale Eggplant: Tiny eggplant, it’s even no bigger than the palm of the hand
- Black bell: The pear-shaped eggplant with glossy black skin
- Ghostbuster: The long, beautiful pure white, oval shaped eggplant
- Chinese Eggplant: Also called Ichiban, quite long, thin, lavender-purple in color
- Slim Jim: The bright purple colored eggplant with a bit thin and narrow
- Easter egg: Quite small, oval that’s colored white, orange, yellow, or green
- Indian Eggplant: Also familiar as baby eggplant, small and squat size with a dark reddish-purple color
Amazing Nutritional Profile of Eggplants
Being a nutrient-dense food, eggplants contain a good amount of nutrients according to Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI). Through this article, we will take a deep detail at 7 nutrition facts of eggplants.
One cup (82 gm) of raw eggplant cubes provide the following basic nutrients:
- Calories: 20.5 gm
- Carbohydrates: 4.8 gm
- Dietary Fiber: 2.4 gm
- Protein: 0.8 gm
- Sugar: 2.9 gm
- Water: 88.77 gm
We’ll get the following minerals within one serving of eggplants:
- Calcium: 5.94 mg
- Copper: 0.06 mg
- Iron: 0.25 mg
- Magnesium: 10.89 mg
- Manganese: 0.11 mg
- Phosphorus: 14.85 mg
- Potassium: 121.77 mg
- Selenium: 0.10 mcg
- Sodium: 0.99 mg
A serving also contains multi-vitamins such as:
- Vitamin A: 36.63 IU (International Units)
- Vitamin B1: 0.08 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.02 mg
- Vitamin B3: 0.59 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.09 mg
- Vitamin B12: 0.00 mcg
- Vitamin C: 1.29 mg
- Vitamin E: 0.41 mg
- Vitamin K: 2.87 mcg
Eggplants are almost fat-free, but still they fulfill essential fat requirements as:
- Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02 gm
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.09 gm
- Saturated Fat: 0.04 gm
- Calories from Fat: 2.05
- Calories from Saturated Fat: 0.39
Eggplants: Rich in Antioxidants
Additionally, to carrying a vast sort of nutrients, eggplants also boost the best quantity of antioxidants. Scientists say that antioxidants can prohibit many types of chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer. Besides, antioxidant compounds help to defend our body from damages and destructive effects as free-radicals.
Eggplants are the huge source of anthocyanins, a kind of pigment with antioxidant substance that’s responsible for their vibrant shades. Particularly, an anthocyanin, called nasunin exists in eggplants, is beneficial for fending off free-radicals, premature aging and protecting cells from damage. Nasunin also helps to transfer proper nutrients into cells and to move waste out.
Considering eggplant, a superfood, our brain can fight neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Eggplants may also prevent the other aspects of age-related mental decline.
Glorious Health Benefits of Eggplants
For thousands of years, people consider eggplants as the ideal ingredients in traditional medicines. In the ancient method of ayurvedic medicine, Indian practitioners used white eggplant to treat diabetes and the roots to relieve asthma.
Within the following details, we may know about the other multiple health benefits of eggplants:
Superfood: Eggplants May Minimize the Risk of Heart Disease
Thanks to their antioxidant properties, many researches show that eggplants can reduce the risk of heart disease. In an experimental research, scientists applied fresh uncooked and grilled eggplants on animals for around 1 month long. At the end of the research, eggplants were truly able to improve the heart functionality and reduce heart attack intensity.
Additionally, the animals also had lower levels of both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides through eggplant experiments. While the result is quite promising, it’s important to mark that contemporary research is limited to animals and test-tube methods. We need to evaluate further research on how eggplants may affect heart health in humans.
Eggplants Boost Blood Sugar Control
Eggplants are the great source of fiber, that keeps the entire digestive system intact. Thus, eggplants play great role in our diet and keep our blood sugar at a stable level.
Moreover, fiber in eggplants can minimize blood sugar by reducing the rank of digestion and exploitation of sugar in our body. Delayed exploitation system keeps blood sugar rates in check and harmless. The system also prevents cramp and sudden breakdown.
The latest experiment studied on polyphenol-abounding extracts of eggplants. Result showed that those extracts could reduce the rates of individual enzymes that affect sugar absorption, and slow down blood sugar level.
Another research suggests that polyphenols, or natural compounds of plants, existed in eggplants can decrease sugar absorption and increase insulin secretion. Both facts can boost lower blood sugar.
Eggplants as Good Food for Weight Loss
Being enriched with fiber and less contributors of calories, eggplants are excellent supplements to every weight loss condition. Besides, fiber influences the digestive system gradually and may improve dietary completion. Also, fiber in eggplants may reduce calorie intake.
For the utmost facts, dietitians often include eggplants as a fiber-enriched, low-carb, nutrient-dense, low-calorie supplements in the ideal diet plan.
Great Source for Eye health
Eggplants also contain antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin boost eye health. In addition, certain vitamins and minerals of eggplants may play a role in preventing two common causes of vision problems:
- Cataracts: the cloudy areas in the lens of the eye
- Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): a phase that causes vision loss in the macula in aged people
Cancer-Fighting Benefits of Eggplants
Several researches show that eggplants preserve various components that fight cancer cells potentially. As example, Solasodine Rhamnosyl Glycosides (SRGs) are a sort of component existed in some nightshade plants, as eggplants.
Particular animal studies show that SRGs may lead to the death of severe cancer cells. Even, SRGs may also assist to reduce the restoration of certain varieties of cancer. Though study on the fact is still not sufficient! But particularly, SRGs may fight skin cancer while applying this straight away to the external skin of the body.
Approximately 200 studies show that eating fruits and vegetables, such as eggplants, may protect against stomach, colorectal, pancreatic, bladder, cervical, breast and brain cancer.
Now, further research is on demand to figure out the fact on how the elements in eggplants can specifically affect cancer in human body. The polyphenols in eggplants can assist to defend the body from deadly cancer cells. Besides, this may help prevent tumor growth and the reproduction of cancer cells.
Furthermore, anthocyanins may help achieve this by preventing new blood vessels from forming in the tumor. These substances also help reduce inflammation, and block the enzymes that help cancer cells to spread.
Tips to Prepare and Store Eggplant
Start cutting eggplants just before you’re ready to cook them. Because, these vegetables go bad so fast. While cutting eggplants, use a stainless-steel knife, otherwise these turn into black. Wash the eggplants properly and then cut off both ends. The skin is good to eat, but you can remove it if you find it too chewy.
While cutting one open of eggplants, you’ll find white meaty and spongy flesh, with a sign of green or yellow, dotted with tiny clusters of pale brown seeds. The eggplant might have gone rotten if the inner part is brown.
Eggplants naturally come with a little bitter and tangy tastes. Sprinkle it with salt and let it set for around 30 minutes. Thus, the salt will draw out some of the bitterness. Plus, salt will also prevent the eggplants from absorbing excessive oil and becoming greasy during cooking. Rinse off the salt before you cook it.
Eggplants have a rich, meaty inside that takes on a creamy consistency when you cook it. The strong texture makes the eggplants good replacement for meat. Instead, store them in the fridge, where you can keep it fresh for up to a week safely.
According to our demand, we can roast, bake, steam, or sauté eggplants. Moreover, eggplants make a good addition to curries and soups. But keep in mind that rolling eggplants in breadcrumbs and frying deep in oil will add extra calories and fat.
Point to remember that the eggplants are pretty guilt-free food as long as we don’t soak them in oil. To make a lighter and healthy version, bake the eggplants instead of frying them. Or, we can enjoy them with a drizzle of olive oil and a quick dash of seasoning for excellent taste.
While baking a whole eggplant, first pierce the skin with a fork. After about 30 minutes in the oven, you can scoop out the inner meaty part and stuff the eggplant with other ingredients. Or we can mash the pulp and pour it into a soup, stew, or dip.
Top Healthy Recipes of Eggplants
Eggplants’ tangy flavor and spongy texture can make them delicious ingredients to many cuisines. Boosting tender taste and unique texture to recipes, eggplants also bring the effective health benefits.
Try the following recipes in your dine:
- Roasted Eggplant Salsa
- Crispy Baked Eggplant
- Twisted Eggplant with Tomatoes, Cucumber and Greek Yogurt
- Eggplant Zucchini Lasagna
- Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwich
- Japanese Miso Glazed Eggplant Burgers
- Roasted Eggplant with Pine Nuts, Tahini Sause, and Lentils
- Spiced Shrimp and Eggplant Stir-fry
More Recipes to Enjoy Eggplants
Eggplants are incredibly versatile and we can easily add them into our diet chart. We can also include them in our menu as a low-calorie replacement for many high-calorie ingredients. Let’s find some more ideas below:
- Eggplant Pizza Crust: Exchange pizza crust with sliced eggplants and tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings. Then enjoy a gluten free, low calorie healthy treat.
- Eggplant Pasta Topping: Cut an eggplant into chunky slices, then bake or sauté them and serve the strips with a pasta dish.
- Burger Garnish: Slice the medium-sized eggplants lengthwise into thick slices and grill them. Serve them alone or as a burger patty.
- Oven-baked Eggplant Fries: Cut an eggplant into strips or wedges and bake them well into the oven.
- Eggplant Bolognese: Adding eggplants to the Italian meat-based pasta sauce makes a healthy tasty dish.
- Maqluba: This is an “upside down” traditional dish which consists of rice, chicken and eggplant.
- Ratatouille: Sauté the organic eggplant, eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, and tomatoes with a little olive oil to make ratatouille.
- Baba Ghanoush: This is a famous Middle Eastern dip of grilled eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and spices.
So, obviously eggplants are affordable and delicate addition to any healthy diet.
Individual Risk Concerns
Here are a few facts about the risks while consuming too much eggplants:
Nasunin and Iron Absorption in Eggplants
Nasunin, a phytochemical element in eggplants, pairs with iron and destroys it from cells. This entire system, known as iron chelation, may be beneficial for people who carry too much iron in their bodies.
But people with low levels of iron should not consume large amounts of eggplants that consist of nasunin.
Fatal Solanine Poisoning
Eggplants are part of the nightshade family. Including alkaloids, nightshades contain solanine, which can create toxic reactions in our body. The reaction can be deadly. Consume the leaves or other parts of these plants can lead to symptoms such as-
- Burning of the throat
- Heart arrhythmias
- Stomach cramps
- Cardiac dysrhythmia
- Thyroid problems
- Pain in the joints
One or more compounds lead to a life-threatening allergic reaction in rare cases. The initial cause appears when a lipid transfer protein in the plant.
Symptoms of the eggplant reaction are hives, stomach cramping, swelling, and diarrhea. People who go through these symptoms should receive emergency medical help ASAP.
Oxalates and Deadly Kidney Stones
Eggplants contain oxalates, that can contribute to kidney stone formation in some people who are more prone to absorbing oxalates. Without treatment, kidney stones can lead to acute kidney injury or even lead to death.
Undoubtedly, eggplants are the significant source of high-fiber, protein, low-calorie food. They are rich in multiple nutrients and trigger many potential health benefits.
So, we should add eggplants in our diet chart to lead a healthy life.