Health Advice

/

Health

EN on Food: Egg-ceptional Eggplant!

Lori Zanteson, Environmental Nutrition on

Published in Health & Fitness

Named for early varieties that were egg-sized and egg-colored, eggplants now come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, though purple is most popular.

The folklore

The eggplant, also called aubergine, brinjal, and guinea squash, is known for its signature deep purple, glossy skin. Eggplant is known for its role in traditional international dishes, such as French ratatouille, Mediterranean baba ganoush, Greek moussaka, and Italian eggplant parmesan, where its unique flavor as well as a host of health-promoting nutrients shine.

The facts

Eggplants (Solanum melongena) are part of the nightshade, or Solanaceae, family of plants, along with tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes. Different varieties range in size from small tomato to small football and in color from white to green to purple-striped, surrounding seeds and a cream-colored, spongy flesh. A onecup serving of cooked eggplant has just 33 calories, yet packs 10% DV (Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories/day) of dietary fiber, which helps manage healthy weight, and many powerful health protective plant compounds, including flavonoids.

The findings

 

The dark hue of eggplants stems from a rich concentration of anthocyanins, known for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. One study suggests anthocyanins may decrease insulin resistance and improve insulin secretion, which is beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes (Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 2018). Emerging science suggests eggplant may also benefit type 2 diabetes complications, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (Journal of Food Biochemistry, 2019). Daily ingestion of eggplant powder was shown to significantly decrease blood pressure after two to three months (Nutrients, 2019).

The finer points

Available year-round, eggplants are at their best from July to October. Choose those with firm, glossy, richly colored skin that feel heavy for their size. They store best at about 50 degrees, so refrigerate and store uncut. Avoid peeling—the skin contains potent nutrients. Sliced or diced, eggplant is easy to bake, roast, grill, stuff, layer in a casserole, or saute with olive oil and seasonings. Eggplant is also available dried, canned as a roasted puree, and frozen cooked.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)

©2021 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.