Find out how healthy eggplant is and discover some of the amazing ways you can use it in your kitchen.
This member of the nightshade family is related to tomatoes, white potatoes, and peppers. Botanically, eggplant is considered a berry but gastronomically it is a vegetable. The most popular eggplant in the U.S. is the dark purple skin-shaped teardrop vegetable, but aubergines actually come in all shapes and sizes. You can find round, elongated, thick, thin aubergines that come in white, black, and even pale lavender. The flesh inside is whitish in color and fluffy in texture.
Eggplants are grown all over the world, but in the US they are grown mainly in Florida and New Jersey. Eggplant season runs from July to October.
A cup of diced raw eggplant provides:
- 21 calories.
- 5 grams of carbohydrates.
- 2 grams of fiber.
- 3 grams of sugar.
- 1 gram of protein.
It is free of fats and saturated fats. Eggplants also provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including copper, which is a good source.
You will also find several phytonutrients in eggplant, including anthocyanins, which give the vegetables their magnificent purple color. Anthocyanins have been shown to have a myriad of benefits, including antioxidant and antimicrobial functions. Other potential benefits of anthocyanins include reducing the risk of heart disease and helping to prevent cancer. Additional phytonutrients found in aubergines include chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that helps fight cancer, and nasunin, an antioxidant that helps protect the brain.
Some people avoid aubergines because they are members of the nightshade family and believe that a compound called nightshade alkaloids can cause inflammation. Many people with types of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis report worsening symptoms, such as joint pain and swelling after eating nightshades.
However, according to the Arthritis Foundation, this is anecdotal and research does not support this theory. In addition, a 2011 study found that yellow and purple potatoes (which are also nightshades) reduced blood markers of inflammation in healthy men. If you think that something you eat is affecting your inflammatory symptoms, it is best to talk to your registered doctor and dietitian.
Selection and cooking of aubergines
Choose aubergines that are heavy for their size. They should have no cracks or discoloration. Store aubergines in a refrigerator and use them for five to seven days.
While eggplant parmesan is a favorite, there are many more ways to cook this superstar vegetable. Here are six ways to prepare an aubergine meal:
Cooked eggplant puree to make babaganoush, an eggplant sauce. Combine well with pita fries and vegetables such as carrots, celery and peppers. Dice the aubergines with the skin and add them to the stir-fry at the beginning, when you add the hard vegetables. Cut the aubergines into slices, sprinkle with salt, black pepper and olive oil and grill. Makes a quick and easy side dish on weekdays. Dice the aubergines, toss with the curry sauce and sauté over medium-low heat until the aubergine is tender. Spiral the aubergine and cook on the stove in a medium skillet with olive oil for five minutes. Stir in your favorite pasta sauce. Bake the aubergines to soften the meat of the aubergine and use as an alternative to the meat in meatballs or burgers. To cook, cut off the end of the eggplant stem and gently pierce the skin a few times with a fork. Place the aubergine on a baking tray and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Remove the aubergine from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes until it is cold enough to handle. Remove the skin from the aubergine and use the meat as desired.