The main health benefits of eggplant are in the low calorie content it
has (1 cup cooked provides 27.7 calories), the fiber it provides, and
the antioxidants it contains. It has zero cholesterol and negligible
fat content, and as such it's an ideal vegetable to include in any weight-loss
The eggplant is also known as brinjal, aubergine, vangi, vankaya,
kathrikai, and baingan. Belonging to the Solanaceae or nightshade
family (which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers), the eggplant
is believed to have originated in India, and has been grown there and
in China for over 1500 years. It was later introduced to Europe by the
Arabs, to Africa by the Persians, and to America by the Spaniards.
Eggplants come in many shapes, sizes, and colors ranging from blackish
purple to purplish green to gold and white. Some varieties have a
striped peel. The common varieties are the oval, round, and elongated,
Eggplants and Health
Eggplant is a very good source of fiber and various vitamins and
minerals such as thiamin (vitamin
B1) , vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) vitamin
B3 (niacin), potassium,
magnesium, copper, and folate.
Eggplant also contains important
phytonutrients that include phenolic
compounds, such as caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such
nasunin which function as antioxidants.
Nasunin has been shown to
protect brain cell membranes from oxidative damage, and thereby prevent
problems associated with aging; while chlorogenic acid has been shown
to prevent the growth of cancerous cells, reduce LDL or bad
blood circulation, lessen free radical damage in
joints, which is a primary factor in rheumatoid arthritis.
is a very versatile vegetable and can be prepared in a number
of ways: it can be sauteed, stir-fried, roasted, grilled, baked,
stewed, stuffed, dried, and made into chutneys and pickles. In
Indian cooking, eggplant is very popular because of this versatility,
and is used in dry and gravy curries, in lentil soups and stews, and in
chutneys and raitas.
Eggplants taste best when fresh. If you need to store
them, wrap them in plastic and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
They don't keep fresh for long, so use them while the stems are green
and fresh, and before they start developing brown spots.
Because of its spongy texture, eggplants absorb a lot
of oil. To prevent this, salt
the pieces for about 10 minutes before cooking, and press out the air
and water out of the pieces. This also removes the bitterness. Pat
dry with a paper towel for stir-fries.
To prevent the cut eggplant from discoloring, keep
immersed in a bowl of water.
Use fresh, tender eggplant. If you use old ones, as
the skin is tough, it takes a while to cook, while the flesh gets