The Brits call it aubergine. The Americans call it eggplant. We call it melongene; some also call it baigan. Whatever its name, India is said to be the native country of this strange-looking fruit – because that’s what it is, rather than a vegetable. While eggplants don’t have an overwhelming supply of any one nutrient, they do contain an impressive array across the board of many vitamins and minerals, such as excellent amounts of fibre, folate, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid.
Studies indicate that eggplant has a number of health benefits from all these ingredients, as well as traditional uses. Sometimes, the leaves and roots are juiced or boiled to make a tonic for throat and stomach troubles, asthma, skin diseases, rheumatism, inflammation, intestinal hemorrhages, foot pain, coughs, anorexia, toothache, or as a general stimulant.
Modern-day scientists found that the Black Magic variety of eggplant contains nearly three times the amount of antioxidant phenolics they found in other eggplant types. Phenols are known to be one of the most powerful free radical scavengers, which can prevent cancer development and heart disease, but it’s these very attributes that give eggplants a slight bitter taste.
Another study found that anthocyanin phytonutrients in the skin of eggplants, called nasunin, is a potent antioxidant that zaps free radicals and protects the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes from damage.
One interesting aspect of eggplant is its shady connections, since it’s a member of the nightshade family of plants with tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers, as well as chili peppers, habeneros, jalapenos, and paprika. Many nutritionists caution that too many servings of eggplant might cause problems. In fact, ancient Mediterranean people reportedly nicknamed it “mad apple,” believing that eating eggplant every day for a month would cause insanity.
Eggplant Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: One cup of raw, cubed eggplant (82 grams)
Amt. Per Serving
Carbohydrates: 5 g
Protein: 1 g
Fibre: 3 g
Sugar: 2 g
Studies Done on Eggplants
Eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes (all nightshades) were tested and found to have antiproliferative activities against human colon and liver cancer cells. In another study, eggplant extract was found to have an inhibitory effect on human fibrosarcoma (soft tissue-related) cell invasion.
Delphinidin, a natural compound in the eggplant extract, was found to be the component responsible for inhibiting the activity of the fibrocarcinoma’s secretions degrading healthy cells as part of the invasive process.
Eggplant Healthy Recipes: Eggplant Sandwich
- 3 medium eggplants
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 12 sun-dried tomatoes
- 8 ounces of goat cheese
- 16 small basil leaves
- Cut each eggplant lengthwise into slices about ½ inch thick. Take the largest eight slices and place on a baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Thoroughly rinse eggplant slices and pat dry.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and heat until glistening. Add eggplant slices 2 at a time. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast bell peppers on grill, or on a grill pan, preheated on high. Arrange whole peppers on grill and cook until the skin is charred, about 5 minutes per side. Place peppers in a paper bag. This allows the skin to be removed easily. Allow to cool in bag for about 20 minutes. Pull or scrape the skin off with your fingers or a paring knife. Cut off the stem end, cut open the peppers and scrape out seeds and membrane. Cut into strips about 1 inch wide.
- Cut sun-dried tomatoes into strips.
- Assemble the sandwiches by placing an eggplant slice on a plate. Spread each slice with goat cheese and top as desired with slices of roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil leaves. To complete the sandwich, place another eggplant slice on top.
This recipe makes four servings.