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Friday, 12 February 2021

Health Benefits of Aubergines / Eggplants ... and some recipes

"Full of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre aubergines/eggplants are a great choice for salads, stews and beyond. Nutritionist Jo Lewin shares the health benefits, ongoing research and history of this versatile ingredient.


Along with tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, the aubergine (solanum melongena) belongs to the nightshade plant family (Solanaceae). In fact, aubergines grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height. They have a deep purple, glossy skin encasing cream coloured, sponge-like flesh dotted with small, edible seeds.

In addition to the classic purple variety, aubergines are available in other colours including lavender, jade green, orange and yellow and in a range of shapes and sizes. The most popular variety of aubergine looks like a large, pear-shaped egg, hence the American name ‘eggplant.’

The modern aubergine owes its origin to the wild version that is native to South East Asia. Prior to the middle ages it was introduced in Africa before spreading throughout Europe and the Middle East. For centuries aubergines were enjoyed more as a decorative garden plant than as a food due to its bitter taste.

Nutritional highlights
Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamins B1 and B6 and potassium. In addition it is high in the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese.

A 100g serving of raw aubergine provides:
15kcal 0.9g protein 0.4g fat 2.2g carbohydrate 2.7g fibre

Aubergines are rich in antioxidants, specifically nasunin found in aubergine skin – which gives it its purple colour. A potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell and helping it to function. The lipid layer is crucial for letting nutrients in, wastes out and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell what to do.

Research
Research on aubergines has focused on nasunin. It is not only a potent antioxidant, protecting the fatty acids essential for healthy brain function, but it also helps move excess iron out of the body. Although iron is an essential nutrient, necessary for transporting oxygen in the blood, immune support and collagen synthesis, too much iron is not recommended.

Aubergines are high in fibre and low in fat and therefore recommended for those managing type 2 diabetes or managing weight concerns. Initial studies indicate that phenolic-enriched extracts of eggplant may help in controlling glucose absorption, beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes and reducing associated high blood pressure (hypertension).

Aubergines may also help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. These positive effects are likely to be down to nasunin and other phytochemicals in aubergines.

How to select & store
On visual inspection, the skin colour should be vivid, shiny and free of discoloration, scars and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed. The stem and cap at the top of the aubergine should also be free of discolouration. Choose aubergines/eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. To test the ripeness of an aubergine, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the aubergine is ripe, if an indentation remains, it is not.

Aubergines are actually quite perishable, being sensitive to both heat and cold. Store them whole in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator, where they will keep for a few days. If you cut an aubergine before you store it, it will decay quickly. Once cooked, aubergines can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

It was recommended that to tenderise aubergines and to reduce the bitter taste you should salt it before cooking. However, modern varieties of aubergine are much less bitter and so salting is no longer necessary, unless you’re planning to pan-fry, because aubergines soak up a lot of oil, and the salting process helps to reduce this.

Safety
Aubergines are a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which includes bell peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Research suggests a link between aggravated arthritic symptoms and the consumption of these types of foods. However, to date there have been no case-controlled studies to confirm these findings, although some individuals report that when avoiding or limiting these nightshade-family vegetables they experience some relief from their arthritic symptoms.

Aubergines contain significant amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid overconsuming them."
Above article with all research links can be seen here


Searching for recipe suggestions that use aubergines/eggplants
Rustic Ratatouille - see here
Moussaka-stuffed aubergines / eggplants - see here
Posh Roasted Vegetables - see here
Aubergine / Eggplant Parmigiana - see here
Lamb chops with smoky aubergine (egg-plant) salad - see here


We bring a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas to this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy. Please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

32 comments:

Tom said...

...I will have some in my garden this year.

DVArtist said...

Great post. This is truly one of my favorite foods.

William Kendall said...

I have never had eggplant.

Laurie said...

👍❤️

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

There's an eggplant in my fridge that will be Parmesan baked happy tomorrow.

Lori Miller said...

I like eggplant parmesan as a substitute for pizza. You have to start the seeds very early to grow it, though!

peppylady (Dora) said...

It been while since I had any eggplant.
Coffee is on and stay safe

Margaret D said...

Interesting read.

Elephant's Child said...

I do like them - but for some reason rarely remember to look for them when I am shopping. I need to do better - thanks for the reminder.

Jo said...

Aubergines are something I never buy or cook with, I should make more of an effort to include them in our diet.

Valerie-Jael said...

Yummy aubergines! Valerie

Martha said...

Yum, I love eggplant. I need to try to grow some this year!

linda said...

That's very interesting, I never buy them but maybe I should give them a try.

Debbie said...

i have always salted an eggplant before cooking, momma taught me to do that. perhaps it is not necessary. eggplant parm with homemade sauce, my very most favorite!! good to know i am storing them correctly!!!

JFM said...

I do enjoy these types of post.
Thank you Jan ☕

Jenn Jilks said...

I really ought to try cooking them. Sigh.

Sami said...

I usually add eggplant to other veggies and roast them in the oven, but I also love a soup I make in winter with roasted eggplant.

Sondra said...

I want to try and grow this veggie this summer, I found the Japanese variety may grow in my climate better...so I hope to give it a try. Happy weekend.

happyone said...

One of our favorites.

Emma Springfield said...

Most eggplant I have been served is mushy. Not good. But I have had better prepared eggplant and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Christine said...

Yummy!

Lisabella Russo said...

I love eggplants! Thank you for the information and recipes!

Kezzie said...

I really enjoyed this post. We are huge fans of aubergines and eat them a lot. Mostly, my husband panfries them with lemon juice and herbs. Our very favourite dish we used to order at the Oriental restaurant in my childhood home town was Szechuan Aubergines which were incredible!
It's really interesting to hear about all their health benefits. I didn't really know what they contained.

Magic Love Crow said...

Excellent post Jan! Thank you so much! Big Hugs!

Pam said...

Prob have not had egg plant in FOREVER....but I totally love its color. I had to laugh when you said that most people don't see things cause they don't look around and I remember my mom fussing at me when driving cause I was always looking around, between looking at the road. Problem is I can miss things right under my nose but I can spot a deer off in the edge of the woods even with it blended in and no one else seen it. I can spot the things that most don't when out and about.....but let someone I work with make a change in their appearance and I might miss it.

JFM said...

Sounds healthy and delicious ☕

Teresa said...

Las berenjenas me encantan. Besos.

bill burke said...

I love eggplant.

Rose said...

That is really interesting about the possibility of being related to arthritic symptoms...I sure hope it is not true. I love tomatoes and bell peppers...LOL

Martha said...

They are so yummy!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

We use the thin eggplant, known here as Chinese eggplant, in various stir fries, curries and other Asian dishes. It is quite flavourless by itself but as a component of a tasty dish quite wonderful. I have made eggplant parmigiana in the past and should try that again.

baili said...

excellent sharing dear friend as always


we whole family liked this vegetable ,mom grew it in her garden and yes she would put it after pealing and cutting in salty water for while before cooking
thank you for best information each time
blessings!