- Eggplant comes in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes.
- The anthocyanins in eggplant may protect heart health
- Another chemical in eggplant, nasunin, may help improve blood flow to the brain
- Cooking methods include steaming, roasting, boiling, baking, or frying, but steaming appears to preserve the antioxidant levels most effectively.
- Scientists are looking for ways to maximize the antioxidants in eggplant while reducing the bitter flavor they bring.
Eggplants are rich in fiber and antioxidants.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has been shown to reduce the risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Studies have long suggested that eating plant foods, such as eggplant, can boost overall health and wellbeing.
Laboratory analyses of the phenolic compounds in eggplant show that it contains anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, and chlorogenic acid, a powerful free-radical scavenger.
Anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Studies show that consuming even small quantities of flavonoid-rich foods may benefit human health in various ways.
1) Heart health
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content in eggplants all support heart health.
In addition, eating foods containing certain flavonoids, including anthocyanins, may be associated with a lower risk of mortality from heart disease, according to a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) in 2008.
In one study, those who consumed more than three servings of fruits and vegetables per week containing anthocyanins had a 34-percent lower risk of heart disease than those who consumed less.
In another, an increased intake of anthocyanins was associated with significantly lower blood pressure.
2) Blood cholesterol
Research has shown that when rabbits with high cholesterol consumed eggplant juice, this led to significantly lower weight and blood cholesterol levels.
Chlorogenic acid has been shown to decrease low-density lipid (LDL) levels. It also acts as an antimicrobial, antiviral, and anticarcinogenic agent.
Polyphenols in eggplant have been shown to have anti-cancer effects.
Anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and, in turn, prevent tumor growth and the invasion and spread of cancer cells.
The anticancer action of anthocyanins appears to include preventing new blood vessels from forming in the tumor, reducing inflammation, and blocking the enzymes that help cancer cells to spread.
4) Cognitive function
Findings from animal studies suggest that nasunin, an anthocyanin in the 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 moving waste out.
Research has also shown that anthocyanins help prevent neuroinflammation and facilitate blood flow to the brain.
This could help improve memory and prevent age-related mental disorders.
5) Weight management and satiety
Dietary fibers are commonly recognized as important factors in weight management and loss, because they act as “bulking agents” in the digestive system.
These compounds increase satiety and reduce appetite. They help reduce calorie intake by making a person feel fuller for longer.
Eggplant is already low in calories, so it can contribute to a healthful, low-calorie diet.
6) Liver health
Research has suggested that the antioxidants in eggplant may help protect the liver from certain toxins.
Nutritional content of garden egg
One cup of cooked eggplant, weighing around 99 grams (g) contains:
- 35 calories
- 0.82 g of protein
- 8.64 g of carbohydrate, of which 3.17 g is sugars
- 0.23 g of fat
- 2.5 g of dietary fiber
- 188 milligrams (mg) of potassium
- 6 mg of calcium
- 1 mg of sodium
- 0.12 mg of zinc
- 1.3 mg of vitamin C
- 0.25 mg of iron
- 11 mg of magnesium
- 15 mg of phosphorus
- 14 micrograms (mcg) of folate
- 85 mcg of vitamin B6
- 2.9 mcg of vitamin K
Eggplants also contain flavonoids, such as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that have many health benefits. They also help give the eggplant its well-known, dark purple color.
The skin of the eggplant is rich in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and magnesium.
The phenolic content of eggplant makes it such a potent free radical scavenger that this vegetable is ranked among the top 10 vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity.