Eggplants, also known as aubergines, belong to the nightshade family of plants and are used in many different dishes around the world. Although often considered a vegetable, they’re technically a fruit, as they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds. There are many varieties that range in size and color. And while eggplants with a deep purple skin are most common, they can be red, green or even black. In addition to bringing a unique texture and mild flavor to recipes, eggplant brings a host of potential health benefits. This article takes a deep look at 7 health benefits of eggplants.
Health Benefits of Eggplants
Rich in Many Nutrients
Eggplants are nutrient-dense food; meaning they contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in a few calories.
One cup (82 grams) of raw eggplant contains the following nutrients (1):
- Calories: 20
- Carbs: 5 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Manganese: 10% of the RDI
- Folate: 5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 4% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 3% of the RDI
Eggplants also contain small amounts of other nutrients, including niacin, magnesium, and copper.
High in Antioxidants
Eggplants are high in anthocyanins; a pigment with antioxidant properties that can protect against cellular damage.
In addition to containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, eggplants boast a high number of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful substances known as free radicals (2). Studies have shown that antioxidants could help prevent many types of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer (4).
Eggplants are especially rich in anthocyanins, a type of pigment with antioxidant properties that’s responsible for their vibrant color (5). In particular, an anthocyanin in eggplants called nasunin is especially beneficial. In fact, multiple test-tube studies have confirmed that it’s effective at protecting cells against damage from harmful free radicals (6, 7).
May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Thanks to their antioxidant content, some studies suggest that eggplants may help reduce the risk of heart disease. In one study, rabbits with high cholesterol were given 0.3 ounces (10 ml) of eggplant juice daily for two weeks. At the end of the study, they had lower levels of both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; two blood markers that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease when elevated (8).
Other studies have demonstrated that eggplants may have a protective effect on the heart. In one study, animals were fed raw or grilled eggplant for 30 days. Both types improved heart function and reduced heart attack severity (9).
While these results are promising; it’s important to note that current research is limited to animal and test-tube studies. Further research is needed to evaluate how eggplants may affect heart health in humans.
May Promote Blood Sugar Control
Adding eggplants to your diet may help keep your blood sugar in check. This is primarily because eggplants are high in fiber, which passes through the digestive system intact (10). Fiber can lower blood sugar by slowing the rate of digestion and absorption of sugar in the body. Slower absorption keeps blood sugar levels steady and prevents spikes and crashes (11).
Other research suggests that polyphenols, or natural plant compounds; found in foods like eggplant may reduce sugar absorption and increase insulin secretion; both of which can help lower blood sugar (12). One test-tube study looked at polyphenol-enriched extracts of eggplant. It showed that they could reduce levels of specific enzymes that influence sugar absorption, helping reduce blood sugar (13).
Eggplants fit well into current dietary recommendations for controlling diabetes, which include a high-fiber diet rich in whole grains and vegetables (14).
Could Help With Weight Loss
Eggplants are high in fiber and low in calories; making them an excellent addition to any weight loss regimen. Fiber moves through the digestive tract slowly and can promote fullness and satiety, reducing calorie intake. Each cup (82 grams) of raw eggplant contains 3 grams of fiber and just 20 calories. Additionally, eggplants are often used as a high-fiber, low-calorie replacement for higher-calorie ingredients in recipes.
May Have Cancer-Fighting Health Benefits
Cancer is something many people are affraid of. Unfortunately, 38.4% of people will develop cancer at some point in their life so a lot of people take measures to make sure they’re protected against the disease. Whether this is financially protected by asking ‘what is covered by critical illness insurance?‘ to an insurance company, emotionally protected by having having a loving circle around them or physically protected by ensuring their body is healthy enough to fight it. One way people believe they can do this is through their diet.
Eggplant contains several substances that show potential in fighting cancer cells. For instance, solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs) are a type of compound found in some nightshade plants, including eggplant.
Some animal studies have shown that SRGs could cause the death of cancer cells and may also help reduce the recurrence of certain types of cancer (16). Though research on the topic is limited; SRGs have been shown to be especially effective against skin cancer when applied directly to the skin (17, 18). Furthermore, several studies have found that eating more fruits and vegetables, such as eggplant, may protect against certain types of cancer.
One review looking at approximately 200 studies; found that eating fruits and vegetables was associated with protection against pancreatic, stomach, colorectal, bladder, cervical and breast cancer (20).
However, more research is needed to determine how the compounds found in eggplants may specifically affect cancer in humans.
Very Easy to Add to Your Diet
Eggplant is incredibly versatile and can be easily incorporated into your diet. It can be baked, roasted, grilled or sautéed and enjoyed with a drizzle of olive oil and a quick dash of seasoning. It can also be used as a low-calorie replacement for many high-calorie ingredients. This can reduce your carb and calorie intake, all while increasing the fiber and nutrient content of your meal.
Eggplants Health Benefits: Super Food
Eggplant is a high-fiber, low-calorie food that is rich in nutrients and comes with many potential health benefits.
From reducing the risk of heart disease to helping with blood sugar control and weight loss, eggplants are a simple and delicious addition to any healthy diet. They’re also incredibly versatile and fit well into many dishes and we found 3 dishes recipes for you to try.
Grilled Chicken and Eggplant Stacks with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Tip: Leave the skin on half of the eggplant — it gives the dish great color and texture.
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (eyeball it)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 8 chicken breast cutlets
- Leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 8 slices (I leave on half the skin like the color and texture it gives the dish)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 28 ounces can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 pound smoked mozzarella, sliced into 8 pieces
- 8 basil leaves, torn
- Preheat a grill pan or countertop grill to high. Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 250 degrees. Combine the vinegar and 2 tablespoons EVOO on a plate and coat the chicken with it. Sprinkle with the rosemary, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Pour 1/4 cup EVOO into a small dish. Using a pastry brush, paint the eggplant slices on both sides with the oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, then place in the oven to keep warm. Grill the eggplant until tender, about 10 minutes. Add to the chicken.
- While the chicken and eggplant cook, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and crushed red pepper; cook until the onion is tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and heat through; season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the broiler to high. Remove the chicken and eggplant from the oven. Assemble the 4 stacks on the baking sheet by layering a chicken cutlet, a slice of eggplant, a little sauce and a slice of smoked mozzarella, a second chicken cutlet, another eggplant slice, more sauce and another slice of mozzarella. Broil the stacks until the top layer of mozzarella melts. Sprinkle the basil on top and serve the remaining
Linguine with Eggplant Ragout
Linguine with Eggplant Ragout This elegant, meatless main course makes a great special-occasion supper for vegetarians
This elegant, meatless main course makes a great special-occasion supper for vegetarians.
- 2 eggplants (about 2 pounds)
- 1 pound linguine pasta
- extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 14 1/2 ounce can chopped tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pierce the eggplants all over, place on a baking sheet and cook until very soft, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly, then cut each eggplant in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl; discard the skin.
- Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and cook until the liquid has reduced about 10 minutes. Stir in the eggplant; heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta and basil; toss to coat. Add the reserved pasta cooking water as needed.
Eggplant Roll-Ups Recipe
Satisfy your family’s appetite with dinners for 10 bucks or less with rich health benefits food
- 1 large eggplant (about 1 3/4 pounds), cut lengthwise into 8 slices
- Salt and pepper
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup store-bought pesto
- 2 1/2 cups bread crumbs
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- store-bought marinara sauce 1 cup
Season the Aubergine with salt and pepper. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and 4 tablespoons pesto. Pour the bread crumbs onto a large plate. Dip each Aubergine slice into the egg mixture, then coat with the bread crumbs.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the aubergine until golden, 2 minutes on each side, using the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer the aubergine to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and 3 tablespoons pecorino-romano; season with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon of the remaining pesto on each Aubergine slice and top with about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture. Roll up each slice. Bake until the eggplant is tender when pierced with a toothpick, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer. Serve the roll-ups with the sauce and remaining pecorino.