A Quick Guide to Eggplant Nutrition
Eggplant contains over eighty different nutrients, so you can be assured that if you love eggplant, nutrition is not taking a back seat in your diet. Just like tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, eggplant is in the nightshade family. It contains numerous vitamins and minerals, plus eggplant contains phytonutrients, antioxidants which can help prevent damage from free radicals and protection from certain types of cancer.
One of the photonutrients that helps to make up eggplant nutrition is nasunin, a powerful antioxidant found in the skin of the eggplant. Nasunin helps to protect the lipids which are found in the membranes of brain cells. This safeguards the cells from attacks by free radicals so that they can do the job they were meant to do.
In addition to nasunin, researchers have found that part of eggplant nutrition is that it contains phenolic compounds, the most powerful of which is chlorogenic acid. This antioxidant is linked to the prevention of cancer, reduction of bad cholesterol, and it has properties which fight both viruses and bacteria. Eggplant contains thirteen other phenolic compounds, but it depends on the type of eggplant as to the amount that is present.
These phenolic compounds add to eggplant nutrition, but at the same time they have a couple of negative effects on eggplant as well. Scientists believe it is the phenolic acids in eggplant which give it a bitter flavor and which cause it to brown quickly after being cut open. They are experimenting with changes in taste and coloring.
Another one of the health benefits linked to eggplant nutrition is the reduction of cholesterol levels which improves heart health. While much more testing needs to be done on both animals and humans, it appears that eating eggplant helps to lower cholesterol levels, which helps blood to flow more smoothly through the blood vessels.
On top of that, the antioxidant, nasunin, is a factor in removing excess iron from the body. Too much iron can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and even certain types of cancer. At the same time, the chemical works to prevent joint damage by attacking free radical cells. This is thought to eventually prove helpful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Although eggplant has a history going as far back as a few hundred years before Christ, eggplant nutrition was not appreciated in those earlier centuries. That’s because eggplant was bitter, much more bitter, in fact, than it is today. It first was found growing wild in India and then the Chinese initially cultivated the plant. But, because of the horrible taste, eggplant was inaccurately given the label of causing, not aiding, cancer and leprosy, plus it was said to drive people insane.
As a result, few people ate eggplant as a food until the eighteenth century. Then, types of eggplant started be grown that were considerably less bitter and more appealing to the taste buds. This is when eggplant started to gain popularity in European countries. Today, the Europeans are at the top of the list when it comes to growing eggplant.
In order to make the most of eggplant, nutrition-wise, you need to know how to select the best eggplant when you go shopping. The best thing to do is to choose eggplants which have a nice, shiny and smooth, skin. The skin should be bright, no matter what color eggplant it is. Make sure they do not have any bruises or brown spots as eggplant is hard to keep fresh under the best of circumstances.
If you can’t tell if an eggplant is ripe, press its skin with your thumb. If the spot indents and then springs right back up, the fruit is ripe. This is the one you should take home and prepare for your meal. If you check out recipes on the internet, you will find hundreds for different eggplant dishes. Try a few to find out which ones you like best.