Eggplant—it’s often overlooked by many diners in the vegetable aisle, yet its health benefits are unrivalled. From providing antioxidants to improving digestion, eggplant is definitely not just an emoji!
With so much to love about this delicious vegetable, you’ll forget all your reasons for avoiding it and start including more eggplant on your plate. Let’s dive into how eating this humble veggie can help improve our overall health.
Nutritional Profile of Eggplant
Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a versatile vegetable that has been a staple in various cuisines worldwide. It is a member of the nightshade family and is known for its unique taste and texture. It’s a low-calorie vegetable that is rich in nutrients. It is an excellent source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Eggplant contains antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage. Free radicals can harm cells and lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The antioxidants in eggplant can combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
One cup of cooked eggplant (99g) contains the following:
- Calories: 35
- Carbohydrates: 8g
- Fibre: 3g
- Protein: 1g
- Fat: 0g
Eggplant also contains small amounts of other vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc.
Health Benefits of Eating Eggplant
- Lowers risk of heart disease
Eggplant is a good source of dietary fibre and antioxidants, which have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. The fibre in eggplant helps to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, while the antioxidants protect against oxidative stress that can damage the arteries.
- Helps in weight management
Eggplant is an ideal food choice for managing your weight. The fibre in eggplant helps to keep you feeling full for longer, reducing the likelihood of overeating and snacking between meals.
- Improves digestion
Eggplant contains both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps to regulate digestion and promote bowel regularity. Additionally, the antioxidants in eggplant help to reduce inflammation in the digestive system, which can further improve digestion.
- Enhances brain function
Eggplant is a good source of phytonutrients, which have been shown to improve cognitive function and protect against age-related cognitive decline. The anthocyanins in eggplant, which give it its distinctive purple colour, have been specifically linked to improved brain function.
- Supports bone health
Eggplant contains several minerals that are essential for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals work together to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
How to Incorporate Eggplant into Your Diet
If you’re looking to incorporate more eggplant into your diet, there are plenty of delicious and healthy ways to do so. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Roasted eggplant:
Cut eggplant into slices or cubes, toss with olive oil and seasonings, and roast in the oven until tender and golden brown. Roasted eggplant can be eaten as a side dish, added to salads, or used as a topping for pizza or flatbread.
- Eggplant parmesan:
The dish called eggplant parmesan is a famous Italian recipe. It mainly comprises breaded and fried eggplant slices that are layered with tomato sauce and cheese. The dish is then baked until it turns bubbly and golden. If you wish to make a healthier version of the same, you can opt for baking the eggplant instead of frying it and use low-fat cheese.
- Baba ganoush:
This Middle Eastern dip is made with roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. It’s a delicious and healthy alternative to hummus, and can be served with pita bread or raw vegetables.
- Eggplant lasagna:
Instead of using pasta, layer sliced eggplant with tomato sauce, cheese, and other veggies for a low-carb and nutrient-packed version of lasagna.
- Grilled eggplant:
Slice eggplant lengthwise, brush with olive oil and herbs, and grill until tender and charred. Grilled eggplant makes a great side dish or topping for sandwiches and burgers.
- Eggplant stir-fry:
Cut eggplant into bite-sized pieces and stir-fry with other veggies, such as bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
- Eggplant curry:
Add eggplant to your favourite curry recipe for a tasty and nutritious twist. Eggplant absorbs the flavours of the curry sauce and adds a hearty texture to the dish.
Incorporate eggplant into your diet in these and other ways, you can enjoy its unique taste and reap its health benefits. Whether you’re a vegetarian, a meat lover, or somewhere in between, there’s sure to be an eggplant recipe that you’ll love.
Tips for buying and storing eggplant
When it comes to buying and storing eggplant, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the freshest and best-tasting eggplant possible.
Here are some tips to help you out:
- Look for firm and heavy eggplants. When buying eggplant, look for those that are firm and heavy for their size. This indicates that they are fresh and have not started to deteriorate. Avoid eggplants that feel soft or spongy, as they may be overripe or starting to spoil.
- Check the skin. Eggplant skin should be smooth and shiny, without any blemishes, cracks, or soft spots. If the skin is wrinkled or discoloured, the eggplant may be old or damaged.
- Choose the right size. Eggplants come in different sizes, but medium-sized ones are generally the best. Large eggplants can be tough and bitter, while small ones may not have enough flesh to be worth the effort.
- Store at room temperature. Eggplant should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Do not refrigerate eggplant, as this can cause it to spoil more quickly and develop a bitter taste.
- Use within a few days. Eggplant is best eaten when it is fresh, so try to use it within a few days of purchasing. If you cannot use it right away, store it in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cellar, to help preserve its freshness.
Follow these tips and you can ensure that you get the freshest and best-tasting eggplant possible.
Eggplant is a nutrient-rich vegetable that offers numerous health benefits. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t forget to pick up some eggplants and give them a try!