What is Eggplant?
Eggplant (Solanum melongena), or aubergine, is a species of nightshade grown for its edible fruit. Eggplant is the common name in North America and Australia, but British English uses aubergine It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal.[ Other common names are melongene,garden egg,or guinea squash. The stem is often spiny. The flower is white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The egg-shaped glossy purple fruit has white flesh with a meaty texture. The cut surface of the flesh rapidly turns brown when the fruit is cut open. It grows 40 to 150 cm (1.3 to 4.9 ft) tall, with large, coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (3.9 to 7.9 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) broad. Semi-wild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7.38 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (5.9 in) broad. On wild plants, the fruit is less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter, but much larger in cultivated forms: 30 cm (12 in) or more in length.The fruit contains numerous small, soft seeds that, though edible, taste bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids like the related tobacco
Health Benefits of Eggplant
Diabetes management: Due to its high fiber content and low amounts of soluble carbohydrates, eggplants are an ideal food for managing diabetes. The qualities of eggplants make it useful as a regulator of glucose and insulin activity within the body. When insulin levels are stable, and the body isn’t experiencing drastic plunges and spikes in blood sugar, the potentially dangerous side effects of diabetes can be avoided.
Birth defect prevention: Folates are essential parts of any diet, and folic acid is particularly beneficial for pregnant women. Folic acid directly protects infants from neural tube defects, which can manifest in a number of ways. Therefore, it is always recommended that expecting mothers increases their folic acid intake to account for their other dependent mouth inside! Eggplants are rich sources of folic acid, which makes a delicious and useful snack or dietary addition when pregnant
Cancer prevention: Along with the beneficial effects of fiber, eggplants are also great sources of antioxidants, one of the body’s best lines of defense against a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Eggplants contain vitamin C, which is a key part of the immune system, since it stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells. Also, eggplants contain manganese, a natural antioxidant and essential mineral. Finally, your body can benefit from nasunin and chlorogenic acid, two organic antioxidants that are somewhat unusual, but have exhibited inhibitory activity against free radicals, as well as antiviral and antibacterial qualities. Free radicals are the by-products of cellular metabolism that can attack healthy cells and deconstruct the DNA into potentially carcinogenic cells. Having high levels of antioxidants in your body will make sure that organ systems throughout your body are protected from harmful infections and diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Nasunin, which is an anthocyanin, has specifically been linked to inhibiting detrimental behavior in the brain. Free radicals are partially responsible for neural degeneration and the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The studies have mainly focused on the effects of nasunin on animals, but it is very encouraging news for those that suffer from cognitive disorders.
Digestion: Eggplants, like many other vegetables, are great sources for dietary fiber, a necessary element in any balanced diet. Fiber is essential for gastrointestinal health, as well as for the regular movement of the bowels. Fiber bulks up your bowel movements so they pass more easily through the digestive tract, while also stimulating peristaltic motion, the contraction of the smooth muscles that move food through the body. Finally, fiber stimulates the secretion of gastric juices that facilitate absorption of nutrients and the processing of foods. Fiber has also been linked to a reduction in heart disease as well, since it eliminates some of the “bad” cholesterol that can clog arteries and veins, resulting in atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Weight loss: Since eggplants contain almost no fat or cholesterol, it is a very healthy food for people trying to lose weight, or battle obesity problems. The fiber content is also very filling, which inhibits the release of ghrelin, the hormone which tells our mind that we are hungry again. By filling us up and reducing our appetite, the chances of overeating are greatly reduced, so weight loss attempts are more successful.
Bone health: There are a number of benefits to bone health that come from eggplants, which is very good for those who are at high risk for bone degradation and osteoporosis. Phenolic compounds are what give eggplants and many other fruits their unique coloration. Phenolic compounds have also been linked to reduced signs of osteoporosis, stronger bones, and increased bone mineral density. Eggplants also have significant amounts of iron and calcium, which are integral to bone health and overall strength. Finally, the amount of potassium in eggplants helps in the uptake of calcium, making eggplants a comprehensive and highly useful booster for osteoporosis and bone health.
Anemia: A deficiency in iron can be very dangerous to overall health, and it can manifest in anemia. Anemia is characterized by headaches and migraines, fatigue, weakness, depression, and cognitive malfunction. Therefore, eating food that is high in iron can combat anemia, and eggplants have a decent amount of iron in their meaty, edible fruit. Eggplants are also very rich in copper, another essential component of red blood cells, just like iron. Without these two minerals, the red blood cell count in the body will continue to decrease, since they are perpetually being used up. With healthier, red blood cells coursing through your veins, you will see a noticeable boost in energy and strength, and eliminate feelings of fatigue or stress.
Brain function: Eggplants are wonderful sources of phytonutrients, which have long been known as boosters for cognitive activity and general mental health. They not only defend against free radical activity and keep your body and brain safe from toxins and diseases, but they also increase blood flow to the brain. By delivering more oxygen-rich blood to the brain, it stimulates neural pathways to develop, boosting the powers of memory and analytic thought. The potassium in eggplants also acts as a vasodilator and brain booster, so overall, the vegetable should definitely be called “brain food”.
Cardiovascular health: There are a few different ways that eggplants benefit your heart health, including fiber, which was mentioned earlier. Secondly, they have been known to reduce the presence of “bad” cholesterol in the body, and stimulating the uptake of “good” cholesterol. The balance of cholesterol in the body is always fluctuating based on the food we eat, but the more HDL cholesterol we have, the better. Reducing LDL cholesterol can prevent heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis. Finally, the bioflavonoids in eggplants are great for reducing blood pressure, which reduces the strain and stress on the cardiovascular system, greatly improving the health and durability of your heart.
Uses of Eggplant
- Spicy fried aubergine slices in general used as a favorite side dish in salads and appetizers.
- It can be stew fried, roasted, baked or ground (baingan bartha, baingan chutney) in the preparation of variety of recipes.
- In Southern India, it is chopped into cubes and used in curry, chutney, and with rice (brinjal pulao-vaangi-bath).
- In Nigeria it is used to prepare African salad