Eggplant is technically a fruit and is widely used in cooking across the globe. It’s used in various types of recipes and cuisines and it tastes delicious. Not only it tastes delicious, but eating eggplant is beneficial of your health and wellbeing. From managing cholesterol level to boosting digestion and preventing diabetes and anemia, the list of benefits of eating eggplant is longer than you may have heard of. Today in this post, we are going to learn about 23 health benefits of eggplant.
Eggplant is the member of the nightshade family along with tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. It belongs to the genus “Solanum”. Eggplant is the common name in North America, Australia and New Zealand but the British English uses the French word “aubergine”. However, in India, South Africa and other South Asian countries it is popularly called as Brinjal. Because of the multiple health benefits of eggplants, it is widely used across the world in different types of recipes.
The plant species originated in cultivation. It has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory. The first known written record of the plant is found in Qimin Yaoshu, an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise. The eggplant is a delicate, tropical perennial often cultivated as a tender or half-hardy annual in temperate climates.
There are different varieties of eggplant. The large dark purple pear shaped eggplant is the most common. The smaller version of the larger purple-skinned eggplant is often called Italian or baby eggplant. These have a somewhat more intense flavor and the flesh is much tenderer in comparison to other varieties of the eggplant.
The straight thin eggplants known as Japanese or Asian eggplant have thin delicate skins like Italian eggplant but the flesh is comparatively sweeter. White skinned eggplant is now widely available and it is this variety that gave eggplant its common name. Also delicate in flavor, they are especially beautiful when grilled.
What are the constituents in eggplant?
Eggplants contain anthocyanins, compounds that belong to a class of naturally occurring phytochemicals known as flavonoids. Besides providing health benefits, the flavonoids present in many plant-based foods contribute to the coloration of the fruits and vegetables. Therefore, the dark purple complexion of the eggplant is due to the presence of water-soluble pigments anthocyanins.
The skin of the eggplants contains fiber, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants, which contribute to the maximum nutritional benefits. In fact, its phenolic content makes it such a potent free radical scavenger that the eggplant is ranked among the top 10 vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity. There is a detailed post by the “Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science” that can be referred for more details.
One cup of raw eggplant contains:
- 20 calories
- 8 grams of protein
- 82 grams of carbohydrate
- 15 grams of fat
- 5 grams of dietary fiber
A one-cup serving equates to:
- 10 percent of daily fiber need
- 5 percent potassium
- 3 percent vitamin C
- 5 percent vitamin B6
- 1 percent iron
- 2 percent magnesium
23 Possible health benefits of eggplant or brinjal
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.
Here is what the humble eggplant can do to make you live healthier.
Good for heart
The nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient present in eggplants have excellent health benefits. Eating foods that contain flavonoids is said to lower risk of mortality from heart disease. Even consuming those foods in small quantities may benefit human heart. The “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” has also supported this point. Studies shows that those who consumed more than three servings of fruits and vegetables per week containing anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, had 34 percent less risk of heart disease than those who consumed less.
Control cholesterol levels
Consuming eggplant is good for controlling cholesterol levels. They reduce the presence of “bad” cholesterol in the body, and stimulate the uptake of “good” cholesterol. Reducing LDL cholesterol can prevent heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis. Experiments shows rabbits with high cholesterol that consumed eggplant juice had a significant decrease in blood cholesterol levels.
Regulate blood pressure
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. Eggplant is very essential in proper blood circulation as well. In one clinical study, researchers found that increased intake of anthocyanins also significantly lower blood pressure.
A deficiency of iron and blood in human body can result into anemia which is characterized by headaches and migraines, fatigue, weakness, depression, and cognitive malfunction. So eggplant which is rich in iron is a must have for anemic patients. Eggplants also contain copper, another essential component of red blood cells. 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.
Eggplants, as we know, are great sources for dietary fiber, which 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. Anthocyanins that are present in eggplant also help lower cardiovascular diseases. Studies prove that it is the women who benefit mainly by consuming eggplant.
You all know that Diabetes is one of the silent killers ranking the seventh position among the deadly diseases that cause havoc in human health. One of the prime health benefits of eggplant is that it helps you prevent and manage diabetes. 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.
Health benefits of eggplant includes menstrual health as well. Many of you experience discomfort associated with their menstrual cycle, whether it’s from cramps, hormonal imbalance, or simply PMS. Eggplant contains Vitamin K, Vitamin E and calcium all of which regulates your hormones so that you do not experience cramps and other pains of menstruation. Vitamin K also helps in blood clotting which controls excessive bleeding.
The niacin in eggplant is amazing at reducing, treating, and preventing acne and other skin conditions. Niacin displays anti- inflammation and irritation properties and is also effective and prompt in treating inflammatory skin diseases (source). Vitamin A is also known to be effective in fighting skin cancer and improving overall skin health. The vitamin E in eggplant is a natural anti-aging nutrient. It strengthens the capillary walls in your skin and helps improve moisture and elasticity. It also helps reduce inflammation both within your body and on your skin, giving your skin a healthy, smooth, and youthful luster. Last but not the least it promotes cell regeneration.
Birth defect prevention
Here is another reason why eggplants are so beneficial for women. Children are the greatest God gifts, so you surely do not want to play with their lives right? 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 increase 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.
Increases bone health
Eggplants contain phenolic compounds that are highly beneficial for reducing signs of osteoporosis, getting stronger bones, and increasing bone mineral density. Further, they contain 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. Hence, women especially those who are middle aged and prone to these problems must include brinjal in your diet chart.
Findings from animal studies suggest that nasunin, an anthocyanin within eggplant skin, is a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cell membranes from free radical damage. It also assists in the transport of nutrients into the cell and move waste out. It is further proved that anthocyanins inhibit neuroinflammation and facilitate blood flow to the brain. This helps prevent age-related mental disorders and improves memory.
Weight management and satiety
Eggplants contain fibre and it is commonly known that dietary fibers are important factors in weight management and loss by functioning as “bulking agents” in the digestive system. Eggplant is already low in calories making it a great part of a healthy, low-calorie diet. The fiber content is also very filling, which inhibits the release of ghrelin, the hormone that tells our mind that we are hungry again. Hence, you feel full for a longer time giving you satiety and reducing appetite. Therefore, automatically there is decrease in overall calorie intake.
Prevents blood clots
Regular consumption of eggplant helps prevent blood clots—thanks again to Vitamin K and bioflavonoids, which strengthen capillaries.
Anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich extracts help to improve eye function and vision. These compounds (which are found in a significant amount in eggplant) are linked to healthier eyes and even show protective properties for your vision and general eye health. The chemical niacin present in eggplant is extremely effective at preventing cataracts. Eggplants are said to reduce intraocular pressure in the eyes and alleviate pressure symptoms. They have been found to improve healing and vision in people undergoing eye surgery.
Antimicrobial and antiviral
Laboratory studies of the phenolic compounds in eggplant reveal that the vegetable contains significant amounts of chlorogenic acid, one of the most powerful free radical scavengers found in plants. Chlorogenic acid has been shown to decrease low-density lipid (LDL) levels, and also serves as an antimicrobial and antiviral agent.
Eggplant is said to have antimutagenic properties. Antimutagen, as we all know is important in tumor prevention, suppression, lower proliferation and unwanted growth rates.
Chlorogenic acid present in eggplant is also effective in reducing allergic symptoms and minimizing the effects that allergies might cause. Vitamin A intake also lowers the risk of certain types of food allergies by boosting the immune system.
Eggplant contains niacin, vitamin B3 and vitamin B2 which are widely used for treating headaches, ranging from mild to severe migraines. These compounds are known agents used in treating dizziness, too, as well as suppress motion sickness symptoms, and some people even use eggplant to prevent premenstrual headaches.
Eggplant contains a compound called scopoletin that essentially serves to regulate serotonin levels in the brain, which effectively reduces the feeling of anxiety and other symptoms of depression. The vitamin B group improves the body’s ability to withstand stress. Thiamin present in eggplant gives your mood a boost and fight against depression and anxiety.
It is the process of removing metals or toxins from the body. Eggplants contain nasunin whose antioxidant activity acts as an iron chelator.
Healthy Teeth and Gums
Vitamin C present in eggplant is so good at taking care of your teeth and gums that it has even been referred to as the “invisible toothbrush.” It is one of the best natural defenses against bacteria and is quintessential for proper teeth and gum health. Besides, a small amount of vitamin C in your diet will prevent deficiency diseases, such as scurvy.
Polyphenols present in the eggplants has anti carcinogenic properties. The anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid in eggplants function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, thereby protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals and, in turn, prevent tumor growth and the invasion and spread of cancer cells. They promote cancer cell death by stimulating detoxifying enzymes within cells. Eggplant also contains Vitamin A, which is very effective in fighting skin cancer.
The vitamin E and vitamin A in eggplant along with powerful antioxidants help minimize environmental damage to your hair. They can even promote circulation to your scalp. Vitamins A, E, K, C, B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate are some of the essential nutrients needed for proper hair growth.
Health benefits of eggplant include blood pressure, prevention of diabetes, heart, skin, menstrual health and many other health issues. The presence of so many nutrients makes the eggplant an ideal food for boosting your immune system as well as promoting healthy metabolism.
Nevertheless, many people are allergic to eggplants and hence even if it’s beneficial they should take precaution and, avoid eating eggplant. Rest of you can try out the various recipes of eggplant and enjoy the health benefits of eggplant.
Are you an eggplant lover? Did you receive any benefit from consuming eggplant? Share me your feedback in the comments below.
Eliana the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.