Eggplants, also known as Solanum melongena, belong to the plant family and are used in many different dishes around the world. Although often considered a vegetable, they are technically a fruit, as they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds. There are many diversities that vary in size and color. And while eggplants with deep purple skin are more common, they can also be red, green or even black. In addition to bringing a unique texture and a mild flavor to recipes, eggplant brings a number of important health benefits.
1. Rich in Many Nutrients:
Eggplants are a nutrient dense food, which means they contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber in a few calories. One cup (82 grams) of raw eggplant contains the following nutrients (2):
- Calories: 20
- Carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Manganese: 10% of the RDI
- Folic Acid: 5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 4% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 3% of the RDI
Eggplants also contain small amounts of other nutrients, including niacin, magnesium and copper.
Summary: Eggplant provides a good amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals in a few calories.
2. High in Antioxidants:
In addition to containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, eggplants have a high number of antioxidants.
“Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful substances known as free radicals”.
Studies have shown that antioxidants could help prevent many types of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Eggplants are especially rich in anthocyanins, a type of pigment with antioxidant properties that is responsible for the vibrant color of eggplant. In particular, an anthocyanin in eggplants called nasunin is especially beneficial. In fact, multiple test tube studies have confirmed that it is effective in protecting cells from the damage that free radicals can cause.
Summary: Eggplants are high in anthocyanins, a pigment with antioxidant properties that can protect against cell damage.
3. It can Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease:
Thanks to its antioxidant content, some studies suggest that eggplants may help reduce the risk of heart disease. One study, in rabbits with high cholesterol they were given 0.3 ounces (10 ml) of eggplant juice daily for two weeks. At the end of the study, they had lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, such blood markers can lead to an increased risk of heart disease when they are elevated. Other studies have shown that eggplants can have a protective effect on the heart. In one study, the animals fed on raw or grilled eggplant for 30 days. In both cases the animals improved cardiac function and reduced the possibility of heart attack. While these results are promising, it is important to note that current research is limited to animals and studies in test tubes. More research is needed to assess how eggplants can affect heart health in humans.
Summary: Some animal studies have found that eggplants can improve cardiac function and can also reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, although research in humans is necessary.
4. Could Help with Weight Loss:
Eggplants have high fiber content and low calorie content, so it is an excellent idea to add it to any weight loss regimen. Fiber moves through the digestive tract slowly and can help satisfaction and satiety, reducing additional calorie intake. Each cup (82 grams) of raw eggplant contains 3 grams of fiber and only 20 calories. In addition, eggplants are often used as a primary source of fiber and low in calories to replace ingredients that contain more calories in recipes.
Summary: Eggplant is rich in fiber but low in calories, both can help promote weight loss. It can also be used instead of higher calorie ingredients.
6. May have Cancer Benefits:
Eggplant contains several substances that show potential effects in the fight against cancer cells. For example, glycosides solasodine ramnosil (GSR) is a type of compound found in some morilla plants, including eggplant. Some animal studies have shown that GSRs can cause death in cancer cells and can also help reduce the recurrence of certain types of cancer. Although research on the subject is limited, GSRs have been shown to be especially effective against skin cancer when applied directly to the skin. In addition, several studies have found that eating more fruits and vegetables, such as eggplant, can protect against certain types of cancer. A review of approximately 200 studies found that eating fruits and vegetables was associated with protection against pancreatic, stomach, colorectal, bladder, cervical and breast cancer. However, more research is needed to determine how the compounds found in eggplants can exactly affect cancer in humans.
Summary: Eggplants contain rhamnosyl glycoside solasodine, which test tube studies indicate may help in the treatment of cancer. Eating more fruits and vegetables can also protect against some types of cancer.
7. Very Easy to Add to Your Diet:
Eggplant is incredibly versatile and can easily be incorporated into your diet. You can bake, roast or sauté and enjoy with a drizzle of olive oil and a small touch of seasoning. It can also be used as a replacement for low-calorie foods with high-calorie foods. This can reduce your calorie and carbohydrate intake, while increasing fiber intake and the nutrient content of your food. Summary: Eggplant is a versatile ingredient that can be prepared and enjoyed in a variety of different ways.
Eggplant is a food rich in fiber and low in calories, rich in nutrients and with many surprising health benefits. They are also incredibly versatile and adapt well too many dishes.