What’s that big purple thing you always see lurking in a grocery store?
That, my friend, is an eggplant. And thankfully for you, the health benefits of eggplant are enormous.
Not many people really know what to do with eggplant, so they usually don’t buy them, but you can actually do a lot with them, and they can even substitute as a plant-based “burger” when marinated with herbs and spices. I actually make a raw eggplant bacon, where you soak eggplant strips in a mixture of lemon, smoked paprika, crushed pepper and celery salt (dehydrated celery, blended finely).
Eggplants contain a very broad range of nutrients like vitamins C, K, and B6, as well as minerals like potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, calcium, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium and pantothenic acid. Not to mention, they are a great source of fibre!
8 Health Benefits of Eggplant
Here are the top 8 health benefits of eggplant you simply can’t ignore!
1. Fights Cancer
A compound called chlorogenic acid in eggplants possess anti-mutagenic activity, meaning they prevent the mutation of normal cells into cancer cells. The eggplant peel also contains a powerful phytonutrient called nasunin, which prevents angiogenesis in cancer cells, inhibiting their growth.
2. Protects and Nourishes Brain Cells
Phytonutrients in the skin of eggplants, particularly, nasunin, contains powerful antioxidant properties that scavenge and consume free radicals, protecting the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes from oxidative damage.
3. Promotes Digestive Health
Just 1 whole unpeeled eggplant contains over 16 grams of fibre! That’s an incredible amount, and leaves very little chance for any type of cancerous cell to proliferate. A diet high in fibre will not only help prevent cancer, but it regulates bowel movements and relieves constipation, hemorrhoids and colitis.
4. Manages Type 2 Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
A large percentage of the population deals with type 2 diabetes, but eggplant can help with that. The high fibre and low soluble carbohydrate content of eggplant makes it a great food for those watching their blood sugar levels. But it isn’t really the sugar in the diet of type 2 diabetics that messes up blood sugar, it is the fat content in food combined with carbohydrates that messes things up. Aim for less than 10% of your calories from fat per day, and eat high plant-based for optimal results!
Eggplants also contain compounds that affect the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). Popular blood pressure drugs like captopril, lisinopril and ramipril block this very same enzyme, but research suggests that eggplant can do just the same (without all the nasty side effects that come with most lab-synthesized drugs).
5. Helps Improve Skin Quality
Not only are eggplants high in vitamins and minerals, which are essential for beautiful-looking skin, but they contain a host of phytonutrients and antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and keep your skin looking young and aid in the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles. In fact, many of the “anti-aging” creams and products out there contain concentrated amount of antioxidants, but we all know that fresh is best, especially in raw form.
6. Helps Manage Cholesterol Levels
Studies have been done that have found eggplant to help significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels (the cholesterol in artery walls, and in the aortas), while improving blood flow at the same time (wall of the blood vessels relaxed). These effects were attributed to several terpene phytonutrients found in eggplant, such as nasunin. Free radical formation is also reduced by nasunin, helping protect blood cholesterol from peroxidation.
7. Helps Keep Our Bones Strong
Eggplants are a great source of vitamin K and copper, two nutrients that are essential in bone health. Deficient intake of copper, which is common for a large majority of the population, puts them at risk for developing osteoporosis later in life. This is mainly because copper aids in the formation of collagen for connective tissue and bone, and contributes to the strength of bone collagen fibrils (little strands of protein that cross-link in spaces around cells). Vitamin K, too, helps increase bone mineral density, in osteoporotic people, and reduces fracture rates.
There are some people that believe that nightshade plants like eggplant contribute to osteoporosis, but this, is in fact, a myth. Nightshades are high in oxalic acid, which normally inhibits absorption of calcium and can lead to weakened bones and osteoporosis, but this is if you consume these foods every day and in high quantity. Oxalates will only reduce calcium absorption when calcium intakes are very low, and oxalate intakes are very high. Stephanie Atkinson, a member of the scientific advisory committee for Osteoporosis Canada says that nightshades aren’t actually that high in oxalic acid, and that “The alkali contributed by vegetables and fruit is beneficial for bones as it protects them from using bone to neutralize blood acid.”
8. Immune System Support
Although not particularly high in vitamin C, eggplant contains a host of different phytonutrients and antioxidants that provide it with amazing anti-microbial and anti-viral activities. You know that dark purple hue we associate with most eggplants? That’s the stuff that helps fight bacteria and viruses, because it is most concentrated in antioxidants. Never throw away the skins! Eating an antioxidant-rich diet, helps to prevent free radical damage in your body while optimizing your immune system!