Eggplant is more than just a pretty face. It’s packed with nutrition too. One of the clues to its impressive health benefits lies in the deep purple color of its skin. You may recall from my earlier articles that bright and deep-colored fruits and vegetables give clues into their nutritional benefits.
In the case of eggplant, the gorgeous dark-purple skin contains a potent phytonutrient called nasunin which acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from damage. In animal studies, nasunin protected the fats in brain cell membranes. Since our brains are about 60 percent fat (yes, we actually ARE fat heads!) that’s great news. And the membranes of cells are almost completely composed of fats. Cellular membranes work by protecting cells from free radical damage, allowing wastes to leave the cells while letting nutrients into them.
Eggplant also contains chlorogenic acid, which protects DNA from mutations and has anti-cancer properties. It is also antiviral, antibacterial, and helps lower the harmful cholesterol (LDL).
Selecting and Storing Eggplant
Choose eggplants that are dark purple to almost black. They should be firm and free of imperfections, if possible. Eggplant tends to go bad quickly if there are perforations on the skin. Ideally store at approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit/10 degrees Celsius since eggplants are sensitive to both heat and cold. Avoid cutting eggplant prior to storing it as it will spoil quickly after the skin is punctured.
It is excellent roasted and pureed as a dip or sandwich spread, baked with peppers and a dash of balsamic vinegar, or cubed and added to curries. It absorbs oil so avoid using it in dishes containing high amounts of oil. I enjoy grilling them on stovetop cast iron grill and then using them in curries and stews. They pick up the flavor of anything they are cooked alongside.
Avoid eating in moderate to large quantities if you suffer from kidney or gall stones since eggplant contains measurable amounts of oxalates.
Subscribe to my free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook. Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.