Eggplant: Health Benefits of the Purple Superfood

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Eggplants, also known as aubergine, brinjals, or baingan, are glossy purple fruits that are often prepared and treated like vegetables. They are spongy. It is a common ingredient in many cuisines, primarily Mediterranean ones. 

Historians claim that eggplants have been around since 50 BCE. In the past, it mainly served as an ornamental item rather than a food item. Travellers brought the plant’s seeds to America, where a British gardener planted them. The plant produced tiny, white, oval-shaped fruits that resembled chicken eggs, thus the name. 

Eggplants come in an assortment of colours and shapes and provide numerous health benefits. This article discusses everything there is to know about eggplants. 

Nutritional Profile of Eggplant

With a high water content, eggplant is low in calories and fat. It contains some fibre, protein, and carbohydrates as well. Compared to the white and green types, the purple varieties generally show a higher protein content. Significant concentrations of vital amino acids, including leucine, valine, lysine, and isoleucine, are also present in purple eggplant. 

A 100-gram serving of raw eggplant contains the following nutrients.

Calories: 25 kcal

Water: 92.3 g

Protein: 0.98 g

Fibre: 3 g

Fat: 0.18 g

Carbohydrate: 5.88 g

Calcium: 9 mg

Iron: 0.23

Magnesium: 14 mg

Phosphorus: 24 mg

Potassium: 229 mg

Vitamin C: 2.2 mg

Vitamin K: 3.5 µg

Sodium: 2 mg

Folate: 22 µg

Potential Health Benefits of Eggplants

Helps in Weight Loss

Since eggplant is low in calories and high in fibre content, it is an excellent addition to a weight-loss-friendly diet. Fibre significantly aids weight loss. Fibre promotes fullness and satiety by moving through the digestive tract slowly. It reduces calorie intake and helps to maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss. Therefore, eggplant can be a healthy alternative to higher-calorie ingredients. 

Helps Treat Anaemia 

WHO estimated that 1.92 billion people globally suffer from anaemia. Patients who have anaemia suffer from headaches, fatigue, depression, migraines, weakness, and cognitive malfunction. Eggplants contain a fair amount of copper and iron. Copper with iron assists in increasing the count of red blood cells. Eating foods that have iron will help in managing anaemia.

Helps Fight Cancer

Eggplant is rich in antioxidants. Investigations show bioactive components in eggplants help prevent cancer. Chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant found in eggplants that is antiviral and antibacterial and helps fight against cancer. Moreover, solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs) are a unique plant compound found in eggplants that have anti-cancer properties.

Supports Bone Health

Eggplants are rich in calcium and magnesium, both necessary for strong bones. Moreover, it is rich in vitamin K and copper, which prevents osteoporosis and strengthens bones. The collagen present in this vegetable also assists in the connective tissues and bone formation. 

Supports Heart Health

Eggplants may help lower the risk of heart disease because of their antioxidant content. By lowering triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, eggplants enhance heart health. Nevertheless, the majority of research now only involves tests on animals. More research is necessary to determine how eggplants could improve human heart health.

Summary

Based on their antioxidant content, eggplants may help lower heart disease. Furthermore, eggplants are a high-fibre, low-calorie substitute for higher-calorie ingredients in recipes. This fibre in eggplant can help reduce calorie intake by promoting satiety and fullness. In addition, eggplants are rich in antioxidants. It has chlorogenic acid, solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs), etc., that prevent and fight against cancer cells. It also supports bone health and manages anaemia. 

Healthy Eggplant Recipes

It is easy to include eggplant in the diet or meal plans because of its incredible versatility. It tastes best when baked, roasted, grilled, or sautéed and is topped with a bit of olive oil and seasoning. Here are a few simple recipes to try: 

Roasted Eggplant

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Eggplant: 1 whole (cut into ¾-inch cubes)

Olive oil: 2 tbsp

Salt: to taste 

Black pepper: ½ tsp

Method of Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425°

Take a large bowl and toss cubed eggplant with oil, salt and pepper. 

Place cubed eggplants in a baking paper and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remember to flip the eggplants after 15 minutes. 

Serve immediately. 

Air-fryer Eggplant Fries

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Eggs: 2 large

Eggplant: 1 medium 

Chilli flakes: to taste

Cheese: 2 tbsp

Black pepper: to taste

Garlic salt: to taste 

Method of Preparation

Preheat the air fryer to 375°

Whisk egg, mix cheese, and seasoning and keep it aside.

Cut eggplants into thick slices and dip in egg cheese mixture.

In the greased tray, place the thickly sliced eggplants and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. 

Risks of Overconsumption

The recommended amount of eggplants per day is less than 100 grams daily. One can get almost 7% to 10% of the daily fibre needs from one cup of eggplant. Overconsuming eggplants may have a few adverse effects. Such as:

Kidney Stones

Due to its high oxalate content, eggplant should be consumed in moderation by those who suffer from kidney stones. The crystal formations of calcium oxalates are extremely painful and inflammatory.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions are one of the most frequent adverse effects of eggplant. Although it is uncommon, eating eggplant may induce anaphylaxis in certain people. Additional potential allergic reactions to eggplant include rashes or skin irritation, gastrointestinal pains, asthma, or trouble breathing. 

Solanine Poisoning

Eggplants naturally contain a poison called solanine. Vomiting, nausea, and sleepiness are all signs of solanine toxicity that can result from overconsumption. However, to reach potentially dangerous solanine levels, one would need to consume more than twelve whole eggplants (at least!) in a single sitting. 

Iron Deficiency

Iron is bound to nasunin, a kind of anthocyanin found in eggplant peels, which extracts iron from the cells. It may impair the body’s absorption of iron and result in a deficiency.

Summary

Overeating eggplants might result in solanine toxicity and allergies. The compound found in eggplant peels called nasunin, a kind of anthocyanin, binds to iron and extracts it from the cells. It can lower iron absorption and result in an iron shortage in the body. Eggplants naturally contain a poison called solanine. Vomiting, nausea, and sleepiness are all signs of solanine toxicity that can result from overeating. In addition, because of the oxalates they contain, kidney stones can also develop. Though uncommon, another potential eggplant side effect is an allergic reaction. It might trigger hives, rashes, skin irritation, anaphylaxis, swelling, and abdominal cramps. 

HealthifyMe Suggestion

If you aren’t a fan of eggplants, instead of cooking them separately, you can combine eggplants with other foods to improve their palatability. For example, a non-vegetarian could add cubes of eggplant along with root veggies while cooking a chicken stew or add eggplants with mince in a tomato base as seen in a Shepherd’s Pie. A vegetarian could make a brinjal spiced mash (bharta) and pair it with pooris or stuffed parathas rather than plain rotis or rice.

The Final Word

It’s no secret that eggplants are an excellent addition to almost any meal, and there are many different varieties to pick from. Eggplant’s high fibre content is an ideal way to support gastrointestinal health because fibre is essential to a balanced diet. There are other possible health advantages as well. But it’s also necessary to incorporate a range of veggies in your diet to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients. 

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the nutritional content of eggplant?

A. Eggplant is a rich source of antioxidants. Rich in calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and vitamin C. It provides several types of amino acids, such as leucine, isoleucine, valine, tryptophan, arginine, histidine, lysine, etc.

Q. Can eggplant aid in weight management and weight loss?

A. Absolutely, eggplants can be a great addition to your weight loss diet plan if consumed in moderation. It is high in fibre and phenolic compounds like antioxidants. In various studies, fibre and antioxidants show significant results in fat reduction.

Q. How does eggplant contribute to heart health?

A. Various studies have demonstrated eggplant has cardioprotective properties. It reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack, CAD, etc. Moreover, eggplants assist in increasing the red blood cells that deliver oxygenated blood throughout the body.

Q. Are there specific antioxidants in eggplant that provide health benefits?

A. Eggplants are rich in anthocyanins and phenolic compounds. The peel of eggplant is a rich source of antioxidants, including nasunin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Moreover, it offers vitamins A and C. These have tremendous health benefits, such as fighting free radicals, supporting eye health, reducing inflammation, mental health improvements, etc.

Q. What is the impact of eggplant on blood sugar levels and diabetes management?

A. Eggplants are rich in fibre. Fibre assists in lowering blood sugar levels by slowing the rate of digestion and absorption of glucose in the body. In addition, the glycemic index of eggplant is just 15 (below 55 is low GI). Therefore, eggplants are a fantastic option for patients with diabetes.

Q. Can eggplant be beneficial for digestive health and gut function?

A. Certainly, since eggplants are rich in fibre, they benefit digestion and bowel regularity and improve gut health. However, if you have a weak digestive system, it is recommended to avoid eggplant, as it may cause gas or bloating issues.

Q. How is eggplant used in traditional medicine and herbal remedies?

A. In Ayurveda, eggplant root has been used to treat diabetes and asthma since ancient times. Eggplant is a rich source of potassium and fibre that helps to treat several diseases.

Q. What are the potential benefits of eggplant for skin and hair health?

A. Healthy enzymes included in eggplants stimulate hair follicles, resulting in the formation of healthy hair. Additionally, high in water content, aubergine aids in restoring and softening those dry hairs. To keep your hair’s natural shine and gloss, wash it with eggplant juice.

Q. Can eggplant be part of a vegetarian or vegan diet for essential nutrients?

A. On a vegan diet, eggplant is a delightful dish to eat. It can even taste similar to meat, depending on how it is prepared and seasoned. Some of the most delicious ways to consume eggplant are tofu with roasted eggplant, vegan eggplant meatballs, etc.

Q. How should eggplant be prepared and cooked to maximise its health benefits?

A. Some of the best ways to consume eggplant to maximise its health benefits include grilling, roasting, steaming, and braising. It is best to avoid deep frying. 

Q. Are there any potential side effects or risks associated with eggplant consumption?

A. Although eggplants are good for health, it has a few potential side effects. Having too much eggplant may cause allergies, solanine poisoning, etc. Eggplants contain oxalates, which may lead to kidney stone formation.

Q. What is the role of eggplant in reducing inflammation and pain?

A. Eggplants contain anthocyanins, antioxidants that reduce inflammation and pain. However, since every individual is different, for some, inflammation and pain might flare up, and for some, it might decrease.

Q. Can eggplant help with brain health and cognitive function?

A. Eggplant is a rich source of phytonutrients that improve overall brain health and is well-known to increase cognitive ability. These phytonutrients reduce free radicals that cause disease and protect the brain from getting affected.

Q. How is eggplant used in various global cuisines and recipes for health benefits?

A. Eggplants are added in various cuisines, baked, grilled and sauteed. Brining the eggplant (soaking in salted water) will also make the flesh super creamy. It also helps cut the bitterness.

Research Sources

Data by the US Department of Agriculture on eggplant

Cardioprotective properties of raw and cooked eggplant (Solanum melongena L)

Eggplant fruits protect against DNA damage and mutations.

Effects of Dietary Fibre and Its Components on Metabolic Health

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