The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Eggplant into Your Diet

Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a tear-drop-shaped plant that belongs to the nightshade family. Although they are commonly regarded as vegetables, eggplants are technically fruits because they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds.

There are several varieties of eggplant, which differ in size and color. The deep purple skin variety of these fruits is the most common, but eggplants can also be red, black, or green. 

Eggplants add a unique texture and sweetness to dishes, with a slight vegetal bitter taste. In addition to their great taste, eggplants offer a range of health benefits. This article takes a look at the nutritional composition of eggplant and the health benefits of integrating it into your diet.

Nutritional Composition of Eggplant

Eggplants are packed with nutrients, containing vitamins and minerals. These fruits are also high in fiber and have very few calories.

A 100g serving of eggplant contains:

  • Calories: 25
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 6g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Folate: 22mcg
  • Vitamin A: 15.4mg
  • Vitamin C: 2.2mg
  • Vitamin K: 3.5mcg
  • Calcium: 9mg
  • Potassium: 229mg
  • Phosphorus: 24mg

In addition to these nutrients, eggplant boasts a high amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Eggplants are particularly high in anthocyanins, a type of pigment with antioxidant properties that is responsible for their vibrant color.

Health Benefits of Eggplants

Eggplants offer many health benefits, some of which include:

Blood Sugar Control

Adding eggplants to your diet may help regulate your blood glucose level. Eggplants are rich in fiber, which can help lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate of digestion and the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Slower absorption of sugar prevents spikes and crashes in blood glucose levels.

According to one study, polyphenols in eggplant and other foods may reduce sugar absorption and increase insulin secretion, both of which are necessary for lowering blood glucose. Another test-tube study showed that polyphenols can reduce the levels of specific enzymes that influence glucose absorption.

Cancer-Fighting Properties

Eggplants contain several substances with cancer-fighting potential. Solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs), a compound in eggplant and other nightshade plants, may have anti-cancer properties.

An animal study found the SRGs can kill some cancer cells and prevent the recurrence of certain types of cancer. Researchers also found that SRGs are effective against skin cancer when applied to the skin.

Moreover, several studies have suggested that eating more fruits and vegetables, such as eggplant and kale, may protect against certain types of cancer. A review of almost 200 studies showed that fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic, stomach, colorectal, bladder, cervical, and breast cancer.

Improved Cognitive Function

Adding eggplant to your diet may promote cognitive function. Findings from an animal study show that nasunin, one of the anthocyanins in eggplants, may protect brain cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. Nasunin also helps with nutrient transport into cells and waste removal.

Anthocyanins may also help to prevent inflammatory responses in the brain and spinal cord, as well as improve blood flow through the brain. This helps prevent memory loss and other mental decline associated with old age. Furthermore, laboratory studies suggest that nasunin may inhibit fat breakdown in the brain, a process that can cause cell damage.

May Protect Against Heart Disease

Due to their high antioxidant content, experts believe eggplants may reduce the risk of heart disease. One animal study showed that eggplants reduced LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in rabbits with high cholesterol. The presence of these two blood markers has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Other studies also show that eggplants may have a protective effect on the heart. Researchers fed raw and grilled eggplant to animals. They found that it improved their heart function and reduced the severity of a heart attack.

Weight Management

Eggplants are low in calories and high in fiber, which makes them a great addition to a weight loss diet. Raw eggplant contains 3 grams of fiber and only 20 calories per cup.

Fiber moves slowly through the digestive tract and can increase fullness and satiety while decreasing calorie intake. You can use eggplant as a high-fiber, low-calorie replacement for higher-calorie ingredients in various dishes. Eggplant absorbs a lot of oil during frying. Anyone trying to lose weight should prepare it differently, such as by grilling or air-frying it.

How to Add Eggplant to Your Diet

Eggplant is very versatile and incredibly easy to integrate into your diet. You can bake, roast, grill, sauté, or eat it raw with a drizzle of olive oil. Avoid cutting an eggplant until you’re ready to eat it because these fruits go bad quickly. Eggplants can last up to a week when you store them in the fridge.

Bottom Line

Eggplant is high in fiber and has low calories, which makes it a great addition to various dishes. It also has a variety of health benefits, including blood sugar control, weight loss, and improved heart health. Eggplants are widely available, and eating them poses very few risks.