Beneath its shiny, colorful surface, the eggplant harbors a plethora of health-building properties that may surprise people. A nightshade vegetable, eggplant has high antioxidant properties and contains potassium and vitamins C and B6, which are linked to a lower risk of mortality from heart disease. Eggplant contains a reasonable amount of the lesser-known vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, preventing calcification of the arteries and the elimination of dangerous plaque deposits that could clog the heart.
Eggplant contains significant amounts of the powerful free radical chlorogenic acid and can decrease LDL cholesterol levels. It has anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-carcinogenic properties.
It also contains anthocyanins, red-blue flavonoid plant pigments bursting with antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure significantly. Lowered blood pressure can also lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, and blood clots.
Eggplant also has polyphenols, disease-fighting chemicals that help reduce inflammation and stress-related damage to the body. Polyphenols have been shown to help prevent tumor growth and stop the invasion and spread of cancer cells.
The vitamin A in eggplant helps control malignant cells in the lungs, prostate, breast, ovaries, bladder and skin. Nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant skin, is a strong antioxidant that protects brain cells from free-radical damage. It works to inhibit inflammation and increases blood flow to the brain, which helps prevent mental disorders related to age and memory.
Eggplant’s high fiber and magnesium content, combined with its low amount of soluble carbohydrates, makes it an ideal food for managing diabetes. No matter how you eat it, eggplant has numerous health benefits.
Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy, balanced diet. It is essential for gastrointestinal health and regular bowel movements, and it stimulates the secretion of gastric juices that help in the absorption of nutrients. It helps gut health, the immune system, blood glucose and serum lipid levels.
Eggplant contains almost no fat, no cholesterol and very few calories, so adding eggplant to your diet is a great choice if you are trying to lose weight. The high fiber content also inhibits the release of ghrelin, a hormone that tells the brain that you are hungry again.
Phenolic compounds in eggplant have been linked to reduced signs of osteoporosis, stronger bones and increased bone mineral density. Eggplant also has significant amounts of iron, manganese and calcium, all of which are integral to maintaining strong bones.
Eggplant also has the highest concentration of nicotine of any vegetable, which isn’t that surprising since tobacco is also part of the nightshade family. The nicotine in eggplant has about the same effect on the body as caffeine. People with sensitivities to nightshade vegetables should avoid them, including eggplant.
Eggplant is not as bitter as it used to be, but you can salt it and let it stand for a few minutes and then rinse and pat dry to reduce any bitterness. It is more than 90 percent water, and 100 grams of raw eggplant has only 24 calories but 14 percent of daily fiber needs.
Raw Eggplant Salad
1 medium eggplant 1 celery rib 1/2 cup raw black olives 1/2 cup fresh basil 1/2 cup onion 1/2 cup red bell pepper 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbs. raw honey 1 clove garlic 1/4 tsp. Himalayan salt pinch cayenne pepper
Chop the eggplant into bite-size pieces and halve the cherry tomatoes. Mince the celery, black olives, basil, onion and red pepper. Chop the garlic and combine with the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and cayenne in a small mason jar and shake well into a smooth dressing. Toss with the vegetables and coat well. Enjoy.
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle® and founder of The Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta that offers healthy lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 1-800-844-9876, or visit LivingFoodsInstitute.com.