Beautiful, glossy, deep-purple eggplant has a unique taste and texture. The first time I saw one was at a European market shop decades ago. It was so beautiful that I bought one and put it on the counter for a couple of days to enjoy its beauty before finding an eggplant recipe.
When I lived in England it was called aubergine, not eggplant. In fact, it is most commonly called aubergine in Australia, France, and England.
The beautiful eggplant is loved for its vibrant purple color and unique pleasant bitter taste. It is also full of nutrients and health benefits.
Health Benefits of Eggplant
Eggplants contain a rare, unique antioxidant called nasunin which is exceptionally beneficial. It is a powerful antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals which can cause damage to our living cells and tissues. Nasunin gives the eggplant its dark purple coloring, which protects it from environmental damage particularly from the sun. Nasunin is also found in deep-colored vegetables and fruits, such as the red turnip and red cabbage.
The purple skin of the eggplant has the highest amount of nasunin making, it very beneficial.
Nasunin fights inflammation and oxidative stress according to studies. It also helps remove poisonous metals (mercury, arsenic, and lead) out of the body.
Protects DNA and Cell Membranes from Damage
Nasunin protects the fat layer of the cell membrane which keeps it together and stops a change or death of the cell.
Good for Brain Health
Nasunin helps the brain’s lipid cell membranes keeping the brain healthy.
Helps Us Get More Nutrients and Remove Waste
The antioxidant, nasunin helps the cells in our body use the nutrients from food we eat and remove waste. Removal of waste is important because when there is a buildup of toxins in our body it can lead to the development of many diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
Makes Iron More Absorbable
It is an iron chelator, meaning nanusin helps your body more easily absorb iron, according to studies.
Note: Iron is a vital nutrient (for oxygen transport and immune function), but too much iron is not good. Too much iron increases free radical production which can cause an increase of heart disease and cancer. Women menstruating lose iron every month so are not likely to have too much iron. Postmenopausal women can easily accumulate too much by chelating iron.
Helpful for Type 2 Diabetics
The Laboratory of Food Biotechnology, University of Massachusetts found it to help control glucose absorption and reduce associated hypertension.
Helps Control Blood Pressure
Eggplants are an ACE inhibitor (angiotensin converting enzyme); prescription blood pressure drugs block ACE.
Note: Eggplants are part of the nightshade family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes and bell peppers. For those sensitive to nightshades, they could trigger inflammation in the body and contribute to arthritis. There are no scientific studies to confirm this, but many health professionals have made the observation that some people are sensitive to nightshade produce. It has been suggested that this sensitivity to nightshades is a unique sensitivity to solanine.
Eggplants are full of antioxidants, special phytonutrients such as nasunin, and many vitamins and minerals. Also, all of this comes with only 35 calories per cup. Learn more about Eggplant nutrient details.
To receive all these wonderful nutrients, it has been found that cooked eggplant is better than raw eggplant.
Selecting the Best Eggplant
An eggplant is at its best during eggplant season, from August through October, but you can get them all year long. Make sure that the eggplant you choose is heavy and firm with a bright-colored skin that is smooth and shiny. They are best with no bruises and discoloration with stems on the ends that are bright green. Press the skin with your thumb, and it will spring back if it is ripe with no depression remaining. For sure it should not be waxed.
How to Store Eggplant
Eggplants are very delicate, as they are sensitive to both cold and heat. It is best to store in the refrigerator uncut because once the skin has been pierced the inner flesh will spoil.
An eggplant wrapped in plastic film will not be able to breath, so remove it. Put unwashed eggplant into a loose-fitting plastic bag and store in the refrigerator’s crisper.
Tips for Preparing Eggplant
First, wash your eggplant and cut off the ends using a stainless steel knife as a carbon knife will cause it to turn black destroying phytonutrients.
Leave the skin on, as that is where most of the health benefits are except the large white ones that usually have inedible tough skins.
The bitter taste which is natural can be reduced by sprinkling it with salt and letting it sit for about 30 – 40 minutes. This will pull out some water making it less absorbent to oil used in cooking. Rinse it and it is ready to be cooked. Now they can be fried, sautéed, baked, or steamed.