Eggplant: Properties and Benefits
Eggplant has a unique range of therapeutic properties. It is a vegetable grown all over the world and offers health benefits that we will now see
The eggplant, scientific name Solanum Melongena, belongs to the Solanaceae family and is native to India where it grew spontaneously more than 4.000 years ago.
The eggplant began to spread in Italy around 400 AD by the Arabs. To date, Italy is one of the major European countries exporting this vegetable.
The aubergine is a typically summer vegetable, in fact, below 12 °, the plant stops growing. It is a vegetable that cannot be eaten raw. In addition to having an unpleasant taste, in fact, it contains a toxic substance whose name is solanine.
- Chemical Composition
- Heart Benefits
- Blood Pressure
- Absorbs Fats
This vegetable is considered by researchers to be part of a group of special vegetables. The reason for its peculiarity is the presence of antioxidant anthocyanins which are the ones that give the classic color to the aubergines.
Studies inform us that cooking this vegetable increases its health benefits. In fact, research suggests that cooking increases the amount of antioxidants and its beneficial properties. ( 1 )
Although today, thanks to scientific research, we know more about its properties and benefits, the eggplant has been appreciated worldwide for thousands of years. Today this tasty vegetable is particularly consumed in countries like France, Italy, Egypt, the United States, Israel and many others.
Today the major eggplant producing countries are China, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. Just think that China alone has 58% of the world’s eggplant crops.
There are many existing varieties of this vegetable, which, in addition to the color, differ in the shape, oval, round and long.
|Chemical composition per 100 g of aubergines|
Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
It has a very low calorific value, 100 g of edible part has a yield of only 24 kcal.
Eggplant: Properties and Benefits
Purifying and Restorative
Due to its high water content, the eggplant is considered first of all to purify the body. It is therefore recommended in cases of gout, arteriosclerosis and urinary tract inflammation problems. The good presence of potassium and other minerals then gives it remineralizing and restorative properties.
It Reduces Cholesterol
The aubergines also contain some bitter substances, also present in the leaves of the artichokes. These help to stimulate bile production and, together with fiber, help to lower the bad LDL cholesterol rate.
This property of eggplants has been confirmed by some studies conducted at the Institute of Biology of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Being a vegetable very low in calories and rich in fiber, the eggplant is often included in slimming diets.
Another study shows that eggplant can be beneficial to heart health due to its ability to fight inflammation and oxidative stress and above all to keep cholesterol levels under control. ( 2 )
Again thanks to the presence of antioxidants, some studies suggest that eggplant helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies have been carried out on rabbits to demonstrate this aubergine property.
In the study, animals with high cholesterol were given 10 ml of eggplant juice per day for 2 weeks. At the end of the experiment the rabbits had lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. ( 3 )
Another study conducted in mice gave positive results for heart health. For 30 days the animals were fed raw and cooked aubergines. At the end of the test results showed an improvement in cardiac function in animals. ( 4 )
Obviously the studies conducted on animals do not give any certainty of the same effects on humans. These studies provide only indications that must then be tested on humans.
It is a compound of plant origin well known for its marked antioxidant properties. Researchers from the Department of Agricultural Research Service found that chlorogenic acid is main antioxidant compound present in the aubergine. Its activity contributes to the reduction of the cholesterol level in the blood and counteracts the activity of free radicals.
The eggplant contains an antioxidant rather rare and at the same time beneficial to health, the nasunin. In studies, this compound has shown the ability to counteract inflammation and oxidative stress. This means that nasunin reduces the damage induced by free radicals with great health benefits. ( 5 )
It Does not Contain Gluten
The aubergine does not contain gluten and can therefore be consumed by people affected by celiac disease.
Like most vegetables, it has a good dietary fiber content. Fiber promotes regular intestinal transit of food and facilitates the digestive process. The fiber also stimulates the production of gastric juices that facilitate the absorption of nutrients in the intestine.
Useful for Weight Loss
They contain very little fat and zero cholesterol. The abundance of fiber instead helps to increase the sense of satiety and makes this food suitable for all those who are willing to lose weight.
The aubergine contains some phenolic compounds whose properties have been linked with one reduction of symptoms of osteoporosis and greater bone density. Added to this is the good content of iron and calcium which are essential for bone health.
Anemia is a disease that occurs due to iron deficiency, the symptoms are headaches, depression and weakness. The eggplant contains iron and also a good amount of copper, another substance useful for the formation of red blood cells.
It is Good for Brain
Phytonutrients, also present in eggplant , have long been known for their beneficial properties towards cognitive function. These substances counteract the harmful activity of free radicals and also improve the blood supply to the brain. As a consequence, there are benefits for memory and brain function.
The folic acid protects the unborn in the womb to expectant mothers by defects at the neural tube. For this reason it is recommended that pregnant women increase their folic acid intake and eggplants are an excellent food to do so.
High Antioxidant Content
The antioxidants are compounds very useful for health. Their activity contrasts that of the much feared free radicals. On this topic there are several reliable studies that confirm these antioxidant properties. ( 6 )
Other studies have shown that antioxidants can help prevent different types of chronic diseases, tumors and heart disease are an example. ( 7, 8 )
The eggplant is particularly rich in anthocyanins, plant pigments with powerful antioxidant properties. ( 9 )The nasunin, found in eggplants, is effective in protecting cells from free radical damage. ( 10 )
According to studies, nasunin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can protect against lipid peroxidation. It is used to make iron assimilable by the body and to expel heavy metals from the body thus detoxifying the body. ( 11 )
The polyphenols present in this vegetable have been shown to have anticancer properties. Anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid are powerful antioxidants. Their activity fight inflammation and damage caused by oxidative stress to cells.
These compounds are known to prevent the formation and spread of cancer cells. According to a study from the University of York, vitamin A has been shown to be effective in treating certain types of cancer. In particular, its benefits have been shown against lung, breast, prostate, bladder and skin cancer. ( 12 )
An Australian study has shown that a cream prepared with the peel extract helps fight skin cancer. Tests have certified that the cream is highly effective against keratosis and carcinoma. ( 13 )
This vegetable has a high content of dietary fiber. Its regular consumption can be helpful in regulating blood sugar levels. The fiber is not digested by the body, lowers blood sugar, slows down and reduces the absorption of sugar by the body.
A study suggests that slower absorption of sugars prevents blood sugar spikes. Another study confirms that the consumption of eggplants reduces the absorption of sugars and increases the secretion of insulin. This property has been attributed to the activity of polyphenols. ( 14, 15 )
There are several studies that claim that a good intake of anthocyanins can reduce the blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure is associated with a lower risk of stroke and heart attacks. The presence of vitamin E is also known for the treatment and prevention of diseases related to the heart and circulatory system. ( 16, 17, 18 )
The chlorogenic acid present in the aubergine has also proved useful for allergies. There its intake reduces its symptoms and effects. A study conducted in mice suggests that these benefits are due to the activity of vitamin A. ( 19 )
In recent years, several studies have been conducted to investigate the protective effects of polyphenols present in fruits and vegetables. The conclusions were that anthocyanins are effective in protecting eyes and eyesight.
These compounds, very abundant in eggplants, are associated with healthier eyes and protective properties for the eyes. Niacin, in particular, has been shown to have protective properties against cataracts. ( 20 )
One thing we must take into account, if we want to take advantage of the properties and benefits of the aubergine, is to not go overboard with the seasonings. In particular, you should not overdo it with oil. In fact, the eggplant has among its characteristics that of absorbing in particular the fats.
Those who want to lose weight must therefore avoid frying these delicious vegetables. Indeed, the absorption of oil would be highly counterproductive in this respect.
The eggplant is a very versatile vegetable and can be cooked in various ways. Fried with breading, steamed, baked, grilled, in a pressure cooker. It can also be used in pasta sauces and preserved in oil. Perhaps the most famous dish in which this vegetable is used is that some eggplant parmesan.
Due to its high potassium content, eggplant intake is recommended in the summer months where high sweating promotes the loss of mineral salts.
Among the most known and consumed eggplant varieties in Italy we mention:
the violet of Florence , an aubergine with a rounded shape, the violet of Naples, with a more elongated shape and a more decisive flavor. Then we find Larga Morada, with a lighter color with stripes purplish and with a very delicate taste. The giant of New York, purple and huge and finally the long violet from Palermo with a dark purple color and an elongated shape.
Usually the eggplants are distinguished by the shape which in addition to being round can have an elongated and oval shape.
The eggplant, once purchased, you can keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Better not to remove the stalk which helps to maintain freshness for longer. If blanched in water, they can also be stored in the sliced freezer.
Before cooking, to remove the bitterness and drain them, they must be cut into slices and then covered with coarse salt for at least two hours.
The eggplant has no contraindications. Often, as written above, they are treated with salt before being cooked. In this case, those with hypertension problems should make moderate use of them.
The eggplant is a typical vegetable of the temperate zones. Its sowing is expected on average in March and matures in the summer months, especially August.
The intense color of this vegetable is due to the good presence of anthocyanins . These compounds are pigments with strong antioxidant properties. Among these we mention nasunine which is among the most useful for health.
The world’s largest producer of this vegetable is China. In 2012 it produced 28,800,000 tons.
Eggplant: Properties and Benefits
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