The eggplant, also called aubergine in French, is the plant of the nightshades family. Botanically, the eggplant is called Solanum melongena. The plant bears a fruit of the same name. The fruit is generally classified as a berry, but is used as a vegetable in most cuisines. There are also many health benefits of eggplant
There are many different varieties of eggplants, which mainly differ in taste and color. Usually, the eggplant has a slight bitter taste and a soft, spongy texture. Eggplants are added in many recipes as a complimentary ingredient to balance the strong flavors of other ingredients.
The eggplant was cultivated mainly in the southern and eastern Asia. Ancient Chinese agricultural records reveal that eggplant was cultivated in China since 544 CE. It was then introduced to the western countries by the European seafarers in 1500 CE. For many centuries, the eggplant was used to adorn the decorative gardens of the rich and the famous in Europe. It was used as a food not before the 18th century and today it has a respectable place in the cuisines of France, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Although the name eggplant is very common in the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia, it is also called as al-badinjan in Arabic, vatin-ganah in Sanskrit and badin-gan in Persian. Eggplant is also known as “brinjal”, which is an Indian or South African English name, derived from Arabic and Sanskrit word.
Health Benefits of Eggplant
One full serving of eggplant is very low in calories. A cup full of sliced one-inch cubes contains only 33 calories. Eggplant is rich in minerals such as copper, potassium and manganese. It is also a very good source of Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and B6. Eggplants are rich in dietary fiber and contain folate, niacin and phytonutrients such as chlorogenic acid and nasunin. However, eggplant contains minimal protein and cannot be taken as a meat substitute.
Best Diet Choice for Diabetics
Since eggplants have low soluble carbohydrate content and are high in dietary fiber, they are a safer and healthy diet choice for diabetes patients. The American Diabetes Association and The National Diabetes Education Program of NIH recommend a diet based on eggplant is very effective in controlling type 2 diabetes.
Eggplant protects against lipid peroxidation:
A research conducted by the University of California suggests that eggplant has a potent antioxidant called nasunin, an anthocyanin, which can protect you against lipid peroxidation. Cell membranes are entirely made up of lipids. The lipids protect the cell against free radicals. But, many a times, the free radicals steal the vital electrons from lipids and damage cells. This damaging activity is called lipid peroxidation. Eating eggplants can rid of those free radicals and hence protect against this activity.
Eggplant protects against angiogenesis-related diseases:
One of the key health benefits of eggplant is its ability to act as an angiogenesis inhibitor. Angiogenesis is a natural process where new blood vessels are formed from pre-existing vessels. It is a normal physiological process which is important for wound healing and growth. However, it can also aid in the spread of cancer, by feeding nutrients and oxygen to cancer cells. Eggplant peels can act as an inhibitor against such angiogenesis-related diseases as it contains the antioxidant nasunin. The Department of Nutritional Science in Japan also agrees with these claims and recommends eggplant.
More on Eggplant
To learn tips on how to select, store, cut and cook eggplant, please read this article.