There are many health benefits of eggplants but before we get into them, let’s learn a little more about this fantastic food. Few vegetables come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Eggplants are round, oval, elongated like bananas, small as eggs, or large as muskmelons. Their skin may be purple, green, yellow, reddish, or white. They have only one characteristic: their flesh and seeds’ whitish color.
Eggplant Scientific Facts
- Scientific name: Solanum melongena L.
- Other names: Guinea squash, aubergine, brinjal.
- French: Aubergine.
- Spanish: Berenjena.
- German: Aubergine.
- Description: Fruit of eggplant, an annual herbaceous plant of the botanical family Solanaceae.
- Environment: Originally from India, the eggplant was introduced to Europe by the Arabs through the Iberian Peninsula, and since the thirteenth century, it has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean. Today it is raised in hot regions throughout the world.
Health Benefits of Eggplants
The flesh of the eggplant, botanically a fruit, contains a certain amount of carbohydrates, very little protein, and virtually no fat. Vitamins and minerals are in small amounts, the most notable being potassium, calcium, sulfur, iron, and vitamins B and C. The following are its medicinal properties:
DIURETIC: Eggplant increases urine output, stimulating the kidneys’ filtering capacity. Eating them is of value in cases of renal lithiasis (kidney stones), edema (fluid retention), high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
DIGESTIVE TONIC: Eggplant promotes biliary function, gently stimulating biliary discharge and production of pancreatic juice. It is beneficial for those suffering from slow digestion and biliary dyspepsia.
GENTLE LAXATIVE because of its cellulose (vegetable fiber) content.
CANCER PREVENTION: Recent investigations have shown that fruits from the family Solanaceae, such as the eggplant and the tomato are very rich in phytochemicals. These substances protect against the formation of cancers.
Eggplants comprise a specific amount of solanine, a substance that almost disappears when the fruit is ripe. Solanine is a toxic alkaloid that causes digestive disorders but goes away with cooking heat. Because of this, eggplants must always be eaten ripe and cooked.
How to use and Prepare Eggplant
- COOKED: (never raw) in many culinary preparations. Fried eggplant is the least digestible. The healthiest form of preparation is baked and seasoned with oil and garlic. When served with peppers, it forms a typical Catalan dish, escalivada.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 256. Print. [health benefits of eggplants]