When someone is asked to describe what an eggplant is, the common answer would be that it is a dark purple vegetable. But contrary to what many believe, eggplants are not completely considered a vegetable. Instead, it is classified as a fruit and sometimes, the same plant family as potatoes. If you’ve ever grown curious about this delicious and nutritious treat, read more to learn about eggplants.
What are Eggplants?
Eggplants are often called as aubergine. While initially considered to be a vegetable, it falls under the same plant family as the potato. At the same time, it comes with a number of vitamins that make it a healthy alternative.
Another common misconception about eggplants is that there is only one variety. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of eggplant varieties that come with different appearances. While the most common is the dark purple, glossy kind, there is an eggplant variety that resembles an egg. It also contains a small and white color.
Another variety resembles a bean, in the sense that it is long and skinny. Meanwhile, the ‘Toga’ variety comes with a yellow-orange color accompanied by green stripes. These eggplant varieties, however, share the same manner of being suspended from tall plants. When fully grown, they usually reach several feet in height.
When were Eggplants Discovered?
The first appearance of eggplants was in Europe during the 14th century. It was because of Thomas Jefferson who brought the plant to America during the 18th century. Today, there are a number of states that have become leaders in the production of eggplants; among these include Georgia, California, and Florida.
Why are Eggplants Healthy?
Eggplants contain a small amount of calories. In fact, they are known to contain just 20 calories for every cup, mostly coming from carbohydrates. Apart from its low caloric content, eggplants are packed with a number of vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, eggplants contain a number of other compounds that have been known to have health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and preventing cancer.
Here are the health benefits that eggplants produce to one’s body:
Lowers the Nervous Tension
In Nigeria, it is believed that eggplants can help relieve mental shock that have been caused by neurological disorders. This is thanks to the components of the fruit known as soroparone and scopoletin, which deter nerve seizures. As such, eggplant has been used as part of the country’s traditional medicine practice to fight against convulsive diseases such as epilepsy.
Serves as Brain Food
Eggplants contain phytonutrients that have proven helpful in brain development. At the same time, these helps protect the cell membranes from different damages. For parents who would like to have a more active child, it is suggested that eggplants should be part of their regular diet.
Helps in Weight Loss
The fiber found in eggplants are responsible for helping speed up metabolism process and even make the individual not get hungry too easily. This is why eggplants have been known to have a fat burning process in the body.
Eggplants contain an extract that inhibit an enzyme that has been known to cause type 2 diabetes. This is by lowering blood pressure and controlling glucose absorption.
Lowers Blood Cholesterol
All types of eggplants contain a high fiber content, as much as 2.5 gram/100 gram. With this, the fat absorption of cholesterol is put to a stop. This leads to a decreased blood fat and cholesterol levels for the person who regularly consumes eggplants.
Potassium deficiency is one of the reasons why individuals are diagnosed with hypertension. Since eggplants contain a high amount of potash (potassium), individuals can get their regular dosage from this fruit. Together with low sodium level and high potassium level, the individual reduces his risk for hypertension.
As depicted by studies, individuals who are able to lower the accumulation of fat in their blood vessels are also able to prevent atherosclerosis—a condition wherein the arteries get clogged. By consuming eggplants, you get to avoid experiencing this condition.
Lowers Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease
Apart from the high fiber content found in eggplants, it also has antioxidants and beta-carotene, which help in reducing risks associated with coronary heart disease and stroke. These components are found on the skin of the fruit, which is why it is often included in consumption. And since research shows that when an individual contains a high amount of antioxidants (particularly zeaxanthin and lutein), there is a 72 percent lower risk for such diseases.
Several studies have shown that eggplant juice helps lower the risk for cancer since it contains trypsin, a protease inhibitor compound that is believed to assist in neutralizing cancer-causing cells.
Buying Guide for Eggplants
If you have decided to include eggplants into your diet, the best thing to do is to know how to shop for them. When it comes to choosing an eggplant, you should look for one that has a firm grip and a heavy size. The skin of the fruit should be smooth and shiny, and should also have a vivid color no matter what variety it may be—purple, white, or green. The fruit should also be free of any bruises, scars, and discoloration that usually indicates that the flesh underneath has already decayed and been damaged.
Meanwhile, the stem and cap on either end of the fruit should have a bright green color. Make sure that you avoid buying eggplants that have been waxed as they are no longer fresh. To determine the ripeness of the eggplant, you simply need to gently press on the skin of the fruit. If the skin springs back, the fruit is ripe. However, if a dent remains, the fruit has not ripened yet.
Apart from being nutritious for the body, the good thing about eggplants is that they are very versatile. There are a number of ways you can cook and enjoy eggplants—frying, boiling, grilling, and baking. Additionally, there is a number of other ingredients you can add on top of eggplants. You’ll be surprised that something so delicious can be so good for you too!