By Megan Ware
The eggplant, or aubergine, provides fiber and a range of nutrients. This low calorie vegetable features in the Mediterranean diet.
Many of us are most familiar with eggplants that are large and dark purple, but the shape, size, and color can vary from small and oblong to long and thin and from shades of purple to white or green.
This article will focus on the nutritional benefits of the traditional purple eggplant.
Eggplants are rich in fiber and antioxidants.
A serving of eggplant can provide at least 5% of a person’s daily requirement of fiber, copper, manganese, B-6, and thiamine. It also contains other vitamins and minerals.
In addition, eggplants are a source of phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules that help the body eliminate free radicals — unstable molecules that can damage cells if they accumulate in large amounts. Foods that contain antioxidants may help prevent a range of diseases.
Among the antioxidants in eggplants are anthocyanins, including nasunin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and antioxidants in eggplants all support heart health.
A review published in 2019 suggested that eating foods containing certain flavonoids, including anthocyanins, helps reduce inflammatory markers that increase the risk of heart disease.
A 2013 study found that middle-aged women who consumed more than 3 servings a week of blueberries and strawberries — good sources of anthocyanins — had a 32% lower associated risk of heart disease than those who consumed fewer of these fruits.
In another investigation, researchers concluded that women with a high intake of anthocyanins appeared to have significantly lower blood pressure and less stiffening of the arteries than those who ate fewer of these compounds.
Eggplant contains fiber, and this may benefit cholesterol levels. A cup of cooked eggplant cubes, weighing 96 grams (g), contains around 2.4 g of fiber.
Results of a 2014 study in rodents indicated that chlorogenic acid, a primary antioxidant in eggplants, may decrease levels of low density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol and reduce the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The polyphenols in eggplant may help protect the body from cancer. Anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. In the long term, this may help prevent tumor growth and the spread of cancer cells.
Anthocyanins may help achieve this by preventing new blood vessels from forming in the tumor, reducing inflammation, and blocking the enzymes that help cancer cells spread.
Findings of animal studies suggest that nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant skin, may help protect brain cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. Nasunin also helps transport nutrients into cells and move waste out.
Anthocyanins also help prevent neuroinflammation and facilitate blood flow to the brain. This could help prevent memory loss and other aspects of age-related mental decline.
Lab experiments have indicated that nasunin may reduce the breakdown of fats in the brain, a process that can cause cell damage.
Dietary fiber can help people manage their weight. A person who follows a high-fiber diet is less likely to overeat, as fiber can help a person feel fuller for longer.
Eggplants contain fiber and are low in calories — they can contribute to a healthful, low-calorie diet.
However, eggplant can absorb a lot of oil during frying. Anyone looking to lose weight should prepare it a different way, such as by grilling or air-frying it.
Eggplant also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein appears to play a role in eye health, and it may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss in older people.
Culled from Advanced Urology Institute