THE FOOD SERIES: Eggplant
Such a beautiful food don’t you think?
Most of us are familiar with the glossy purple skin, with a cream coloured flesh variety of eggplant. However, there are other varieties that are white, lavender, green, or even orange and yellow. Their sizes also vary, from elongated, rounded or pea-shaped. Because of the range of varieties, there are also slight differences in taste and textures. In general though, they have pleasantly bitter taste with a sponge-like texture.
Eggplants are part of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers. Similar to tomatoes, we think of eggplants as a vegetable because of how we prepare them. They are in fact fruits!
The seeds found in eggplant has a bitter taste due to its high nicotine content. It is actually the plant that contains the highest concentration of nicotine. Don’t be alarmed, the amount of nicotine in eggplant poses no concern to health. In comparison, you would have to consume at least 20 pounds of eggplant to receive the same amount of nicotine as one cigarette.
Originated in China, it remains the top grower and producers of eggplant today. Other leaders in production around the world include: India, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey.
Eggplant in the early varieties were quite bitter in taste, so they were often used as a decorative plant than a food for consumption. Since then, new varieties were developed in which the eggplant lost much of the bitterness and is now used in many cuisines are the world.
1 cup Eggplant, cubed and cooked:
8.6 g Carbs
2.5 g Fiber
0.2 g Fat
0.8 g Protein
0.1 mg Vitamin B1
0.1 mg Vitamin B6
0.6 mg Vitamin B3
0.1 mg Copper
0.1 mg Manganese
A nutrient we have not discussed in The Food Series is Vitamin B3, also known as Niacin. Similar to other B-vitamins, Niacin provides energy production, converting dietary carbs, proteins, and fats into energy, as well as synthesizing starch which can be stored in our muscles and liver for a future energy source. Niacin also provides antioxidant support, protecting us from free radical damage.
Antioxidant support is also provided by nasunin which is a anthocyanin phytonutrient found in the skin of eggplants. It has been found that nasunin protects the lipids or fats in brain cell membranes. These lipids in our brain cell membranes are responsible for letting nutrients in and carrying wastes out, as well as allowing messages to flow in and out instructing specific activities for the cells to perform. Additionally nasunin also acts as an iron chelator. Too much iron can accumulate especially in postmenopausal women and in men. This may be of risk because excess iron increases radical production which may lead to risk of heart disease and cancer. Therefore, nasunin help with reducing risks, and help prevent cellular damage.
WAYS TO ENJOY
Recipes to try!
- Creamy Eggplant Tomato Soup
- Eggplant “Pulled Pork” Burger
- Eggplant Bacon
- Eggplant Chickpea Curry
- Moroccan Eggplant Stew
- Eggplant Fritters
- Eggplant Fries
- Ratatouille with Eggplant and Zucchini
- Eggplants are actually BERRIES!
- Eggplants and tomatoes are actually related.
- Eggplants are called “melanzane” which means “crazy apple” due to the belief that a diet rich in eggplants may lead to madness.
- The juice made from the leaves and roots can be used to treat throat and stomach disorders, coughs, asthma, toothache rheumatism and other skin problems.
- Eggplant is made up of around 95% water and 50% of the volume is actually air!
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES