Eggplant, or aubergine, is a species of the nightshade and grown for its fruit. They are related to the tomato and the potato and were originally domesticated from the wild nightshade species, the thorn species, or bitter apple species. Though many people think eggplants are a vegetable, they are technically a fruit because they contain small, edible seeds and are botanically classified as a berry. Culinary artists love using eggplant because it tastes different based on how it is prepared and because of its vibrant color. It’s a foodie favorite found in dishes around the world from eggplant parmesan to Thai curry to ratatouille. It also works well as a meat substitute satisfying vegan and vegetarian eaters. This purple delight is not just good for your taste buds, but it can be good for your health too!
Eggplant Is Rich In Nutrients
Although many people enjoy eggplant for its flavor and versatility, it is actually a fruit rich in nutrients. It has very few calories at just 20 per cup while offering the following nutrients:
- Manganese: 10% of the Required Daily Intake (RDI)
- Folate: 5% RDI
- Potassium: 5% RDI
- Vitamin K: 4% RDI
- Vitamin C: 3% RDI
It is also relatively low in carbs and has a respectable amount of fiber. (1)
Eggplant Is High In Antioxidants
Eggplant is also packed with antioxidants which help provide protection from harmful free radicals. The purple powerhouse is also rich in anthocyanins thanks to its deep color. This pigment contains antioxidant properties including nasunin which has been shown to protect against lipid peroxidation, a process important for cell health. (2,3,4)
Medical Benefits of Eggplant
1. HEART HEALTH
Eggplants contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6. These are all known to help lower the risk of mortality from heart disease. Studies have shown that eating these leads to lower rates of heart disease even in smaller quantities. A recent study showed that people who eat vegetables such as eggplant containing these nutrients have a 34% lower risk of contracting heart disease than those who do not. Eggplant also contains vitamin K which is necessary for blood clotting and helps prevent calcification of the arteries which prevents dangerous plaque deposits which may cause blockages.
2. LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Eggplants contain a red-blue flavonoid plant pigment called anthocyanin which has been found to help with dropping blood pressure significantly. Lower blood pressure is known to lower the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and blood clots. Eggplant also contains vitamin E which is good for treating and preventing chest pain, blocked or hardened arteries, and high blood pressure.
3. PREVENT SOME CANCERS
Research has shown that eggplants contain polyphenols that are known for their anti-cancer properties. Eggplants have anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid which are antioxidants. They fight inflammation and oxidative stress-related damage found in the body. Studies have found that they can prevent tumor growth and help stop the invasion and spreading of cancer cells. Eggplant contains vitamin A, which may be beneficial in the treatment of cancers such as lung, breast, bladder, oral, and skin cancer.
4. HELP WITH ANEMIA
Eggplants have been studied for their ability to help those who have iron deficiencies. Eggplant has many essential minerals including iron and copper. These minerals assist in improving the health of red blood cells within the bloodstream. Studies have shown that consuming eggplant if you are anemic can help boost energy, strength and eradicate feelings of exhaustion and worry.
Eggplants contain a lot of fiber and are low in soluble carbohydrates. One recent study found that a more eggplant-based diet can help manage or prevent type 2 diabetes. More research is needed to back up these figures. Eggplants contain high amounts of alpha-glucosidase and angiotensin compounds that can control glucose absorption. Plus, eggplants have phenols that help insulin break down carbohydrates slowly, which aids in controlling blood sugar levels.
6. Weight Loss
As mentioned, eggplant is low in calories, yet high in fiber which means it can be a flavorful addition to your menu when trying to lose weight. Since fiber helps keep you feeling full and also moves slowly through your digestive tract it helps reduce calorie intake. (1,5)
7. Help Improve Cognitive Function
The nasunin in eggplant could protect brain cell membranes from free radical damage by helping move waste out of cells while moving nutrients in. It might also help reduce the process of fat breakdown in the brain which can contribute to cell damage. Anthocyanins in general can also assist in neuroinflammation prevention while aiding in blood flow to the brain. These boosts could be helpful in memory loss prevention as well as age-related mental decline. (6,7,8)
8. Assists With Eye Health
Another antioxidant found in eggplant, lutein, has been shown to help prevent age-related macular degeneration. This condition is the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness in the elderly. Lutein is also a carotenoid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. (9)
9. Could Help With Bone Strength
Eggplant was one of many fruits and vegetables involved in a study on bone health. The iron and calcium in eggplant can help promote bone strength and reduce the risk for osteoporosis. (10)
10. Skin And Hair Health
The long list of nutrients and antioxidants in eggplant can assist with skin and hair health. First, it can help reduce the amount of environmental damage caused to your hair thanks to the antioxidants. Second, it can help keep your scalp healthy by improving circulation. Next, it can help promote healthy hair growth. The vitamins in eggplant have been shown to be helpful in treating hair loss. The riboflavin in eggplant can boost and help maintain healthy collagen levels to not only keep hair healthier but also assist in reducing the signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles! (11)
11. Eggplant And Menstrual Health
The nutrients in eggplant can assist in reducing the symptoms caused by menstrual cycles. For example, the Vitamin K in eggplant helps regulate hormones which in turn can reduce cramps and pain associated with periods. As well, Vitamin K can help control heavy periods as it has blood-clotting properties. The calcium in eggplant can assist in reducing symptoms including headaches, bloating, moodiness, breast tenderness, and cramps, while Vitamin E can reduce anxiety and food cravings experienced during PMS. (12,13,14)
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