Nutritional and Health Benefits of Eggplant: Overview | Types | Origin | Nutritional Value | Health Benefits

Eggplant also referred to as garden egg is a nightshade plant that belongs to the Solanaceae family. The edible fruit of Solanum melongena is grown all over the world. The spongy, absorbent fruit, which is most commonly purple, is used in a variety of cuisines. It is a berry by botanical description and is commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. It is related to the tomato, chili pepper, and potato as a member of the Solanum genus. The skin and seeds can be consumed, just like a tomato, but it’s usually served cooked, like a potato. Eggplant has a poor nutritional value in terms of macronutrients and micronutrients, but its ability to absorb oils and flavors into its flesh when cooked extends its culinary applications.

In temperate climates, the eggplant is a delicate tropical perennial plant that is sometimes grown as a tender or half-hardy annual. Spiny stems are popular. Flowers range in color from white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. Fruit that is egg-shaped, shiny, and purple with white flesh and a spongy, “meaty” texture are popular cultivars. Some cultivars are white and have a longer form. When the fruit is sliced open, the cut surface of the flesh quickly turns brown (oxidation).

Eggplant has broad, coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) wide and grows 40 to 150 cm (1 ft 4 in to 4 ft 11 in) tall. Semiwild varieties can reach heights of 225 cm (7 ft 5 in), with large leaves measuring more than 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (6 in) wide. The fruit on wild plants is less than 3 cm (1 14 in) in diameter; in cultivated forms, tall, narrow types or the big fat purple ones popular in the West may be 30 cm (12 in) or more in length.

Types (Species) of Eggplant

Domesticated eggplant come in different varies (types), they can be categorized as following:

  • Chinese Eggplant
  • Fairy Tale Eggplant
  • Globe Eggplant
  • Graffiti Eggplant
  • Indian Eggplant
  • Italian Eggplant
  • Japanese Eggplant
  • Rosa Bianca Eggplant
  • Thai Eggplant
  • White Eggplant
  • Garden Egg

Chinese Eggplant

 

China is the world’s leading producer and user of eggplant, the Chinese eggplant variety is distinctive. It has a lighter, almost pastel exterior, white skin, and a sweeter flavor that complements its look.  Chinese eggplants have less seeds than globe eggplants, they are less bitter. These slender eggplants are perfect for fast cooking methods like flash frying, stir-frying, sautéing, and grilling.

Fairy Tale Eggplant

This is most likely the eggplant that has stopped you in your tracks at the farmers’ market. This eggplant variety is small and violet with mottled white lines, and it’s no wonder it got its name. The interior is bright, creamy, and delicately sweet, matching the exterior’s elegance. Fairy tale eggplants are perfect for sautéing, stir-frying, and grilling because they’re thin.

Globe Eggplant

Also known as American eggplants, globe eggplants are what you are most likely to see in a supermarket. They are darker and wider than other eggplant varieties, with a tougher, meatier texture, and they are great as a protein or bread substitute, as well as sliced into a larger dish like eggplant Parm. Eggplant Lasagna, Eggplant Rollatini, Lamb, and Rice Stuffed Eggplant are some of the dishes that use them.

Graffiti Eggplant

Graffiti eggplants, also known as striped eggplants, are distinguished by their purple and white exterior. They don’t have a standard size like other varieties. They’re great for eating whole or pureeing because their seeds and skin are delicious. They have a similar flavor to regular eggplants, but with a subtle sweetness. Graffiti eggplant is ideal for roasting or grilling because of its thin skin and small seeds.

Indian Eggplant

Indian eggplants, also known as baby eggplants, are purple and spherical, with a small, round appearance and tender texture. The velvety interior is delicious in soups, stews, and dips, but Indian eggplants can also be eaten whole. Grilled Baby Eggplants with Green Onion Salsa, Braised Eggplant and Broccolini with Fried Ginger, and Balsamic-Glazed Baby Eggplant are some of the delicacies that can be prepared with Indian eggplant.

Italian Eggplant

Italian eggplants have a thick, spongy texture and are similar to smaller, slightly sweeter versions of globe eggplants. Italian eggplant’s sweeter notes pair well with salty and umami flavors found in meat and cheese, making it ideal for eggplant Parmesan or layered dishes like lasagna. Delicacies such as Italian Eggplant Casserole and Spaghetti Alla Norma can be made with Italian eggplant.

Japanese Eggplant

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Japanese eggplants are oblong in shape, but not as long or thin as Chinese eggplants and have a darker tint. They have a rich, slightly sweet flavor and a soft, spongy feel that fits well in stir-fries. Japanese eggplant is often grilled because it develops a lovely, smoky taste. Spicy Eggplant with Pork, Grilled Miso Salmon and Eggplant, and Warm Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Eggplant are just a few of the delicacies made with Japanese eggplant.

Rosa Bianca Eggplant

Rosa Bianca eggplants are one of the most attractive varieties available. They’re plump and round, with purple and white exteriors that resemble an ombre effect. This moderate variety is devoid of bitterness and is better served diced, fried, or grilled. Unfortunately, the Rosa Bianca eggplant’s exterior charm disappears as it cooks. Since Rosa Biancas are a Sicilian variety, using them in a standard Sicilian or Italian dish is a very common. Their moderate taste pairs well with tomatoes and cheese, making an eggplant parmesan or pasta dish an excellent choice.

Thai Eggplant

It’s easy to see why eggplants are botanically known as berries when you look at a Thai eggplant. The exterior of this slim, round variety is green and white, with a pale pink flesh, but it may also be purple. They’re more bitter than other varieties, but if you want to stop it, skip the seeds entirely. Thai eggplants are used in a variety of curries, including Chicken, Tomato, and Eggplant Curry.

White Eggplant

The white eggplant is pretty much identical to a standard one, excluding its creamy skin. They have the same texture, same taste, and same capabilities, all wrapped up in a different color. There are plenty of heirloom varieties, such as the casper and Raja.

Historical Background (Origin) of Eggplant

The plant is thought to have originated in either India or Africa, where it still grows wild. Since prehistory, it has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia. Qimin Yaoshu, an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544 C.E., provides the first documented written record of the plant. It was cultivated in the Mediterranean region by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages, who introduced it to Spain in the 8th century, as shown by the various Arabic and North African names for it, as well as the lack of ancient Greek and Roman names. How to grow aubergines was mentioned in a book on agriculture written by Ibn Al-Awwam in 12th-century Arabic Spain. Records exist from later medieval Catalan and Spanish.

The fruit was once considered to be highly toxic due to the plant’s relationship with several other nightshades. Because of the presence of solanine, the flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. In mythology, the eggplant occupies a special position. In 13th-century Italian folklore, the eggplant was said to be capable of causing insanity. In 19th-century Egypt it was also erroneously believed that insanity was said to be “more common and more violent” when the eggplant is in season in the summer.

Nutritional Value (Composition) of Eggplant

Eggplants are a nutrient-dense food, which means they have a lot of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for a small amount of calories. One cup (82 grams) of raw eggplant contains 20 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, manganese (10 percent of the RDI), folate (5 percent of the RDI), potassium (5 percent of the RDI), vitamin K (4 percent of the RDI), vitamin C (4 percent of the RDI), manganese (10 percent of the RDI), folate (5 percent of the RDI), potassium (5 percent of the RDI), vitamin K (4 percent (3 percent of the RDI). Niacin, magnesium, and copper are among the nutrients present in small amounts in eggplants.

Culinary uses of Eggplant

Many countries use eggplant in their cuisines. It’s often used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cuisines because of its texture and bulk. The flesh of the eggplant is silky smooth. Its numerous seeds, like the rest of the fruit, are small, delicate, and edible, and do not need to be removed. Its thin skin is also edible, so there is no need to peel it. When preparing an eggplant for cooking, the green portion at the top, known as the calyx, must be removed.

Steamed, stir-fried, pan-fried, deep-fried, barbecued, grilled, stewed, curried, or pickled eggplant are all choices. Many eggplant dishes are based on mashed cooked fruit sauces. Cooking with fat is popular, but not always.

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Eggplants are known as qiézi in Chinese cuisine. They are often deep fried and made into dishes such as yúxiāng-qiézi (“fish fragrance eggplant”) or di sān xiān (“three earthen treasures”). They are barbecued or grilled, then split and eaten directly with garlic, chilli, oil, and coriander in other parts of China, such as Yunnan cuisine (in particular the cuisine of the Dai people), or the flesh is extracted and pounded to a mash (typically with a wooden pestle and mortar) before being eaten with rice or other dishes. It is used in the Japanese dish hasamiyaki, which consists of grilled eggplant slices filled with a meat stuffing. Eggplants are known as gaji in Korean cuisine. They are served as banchan (side dishes) and are steamed, stir-fried, or pan-fried, such as namul, bokkeum, and jeon.

In the Philippines, eggplants are used in a number of stews and soups, including pinakbet. However, tortang talong, an omelette made by grilling an eggplant, dipping it in beaten eggs, and pan-frying the mixture, is the most common eggplant dish. The dish is normally served with the stalk still attached. Rellenong talong, which is stuffed with meat and vegetables, is one of the many variations of the dish. Eggplant can also be grilled, skinned, and served as an ensaladang talong salad. Adobong talong is another common dish, which is diced eggplant cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic as an adobo.

In its native India, eggplant is commonly used in dishes such as sambar (a tamarind lentil stew), dalma (an Odisha-style dal prepared with vegetables), chutney, curry, and achaar (a pickled dish). It is also referred to as the “king of vegetables” due to its versatility and widespread use in both daily and festive Indian cuisine. The South Asian dish baingan bharta or gojju, which is similar to Romania’s salată de vinete, is roasted, skinned, mashed, mixed with onions, tomatoes, and spices, and then slow cooked. Begun-pora (charred or burnt eggplant) is a common dish in Bangladesh and the east Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal, in which the vegetable’s pulp is combined with raw chopped shallot, green chilies, salt, fresh coriander, and mustard oil. Occasionally, fried tomatoes and deep-fried potatoes are added, resulting in a dish known as begun bhorta. Tiny brinjals are stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, onions, tamarind, jaggery, and masala spices, then cooked in oil in a Maharashtra dish called bharli vangi. ‘Vangi bhat’ is an eggplant-based vegetarian pilaf common in Maharashtra and neighboring Karnataka.

In Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes, eggplant is sometimes stewed, as in French ratatouille, or deep-fried, as in Italian parmigiana di melanzane, Turkish karnyark, or Turkish, Greek, and Levantine musakka/moussaka, and Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes. Eggplants may also be pounded and deep-fried before being eaten with a tahini-tamarind sauce. It’s blended with whey as kashk e bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghassemi, or stewed as khoresht-e-bademjan in Iranian cuisine. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then eaten with plain yogurt (optionally topped with a tomato and garlic sauce), as in the Turkish dish patlcan kzartmas (fried aubergines), or without yogurt, as in patlcan şakşuka (fried aubergines). Imam bayld (vegetarian) and karnyark are two of the most well-known Turkish eggplant dishes (with minced meat). It can also be roasted in its skin until charred, then extracted and blended with other ingredients including lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in baba ghanoush in the Arab world and melitzanosalata in Greece. Zacuscă is a Romanian dish made with roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery, and spices, and ajvar or pinjur is a Balkan dish made with roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery, and spices.

Strips of roasted aubergine, sweet pepper, onion, and tomato are used in escalivada, a Catalan dish. In Andalusia, eggplant is usually thinly sliced and deep-fried in olive oil before being served hot with honey (berenjenas a la Cordobesa). A small eggplant is pickled in vinegar, paprika, olive oil, and red peppers in the La Mancha region of central Spain. Almagro’s berenjena, Ciudad Real, is the end result. Makdous, another pickled eggplant stuffed with red peppers and walnuts in olive oil, is a Levantine specialty. Hollowed-out eggplant can be stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings, then baked.

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Health Benefits of Eggplant

Eggplant is a household name around the world. This basically due to the numerous health benefits derived from the consumption of eggplant.  The following are some of the most remarkable health benefits of eggplant:

  • Helps in Weight Management
  • Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Promote Healthy Pregnancy
  • Lowers Cholesterol Levels
  • Enhances Digestion
  • Regulates Blood Sugar Level
  • Cures Cold and Cough
  • Boost Immune System
  • Builds Strong Bones
  • Enhances Muscles Functioning

Helps in Weight Management

Because of its high fiber content, eggplant is particularly recommended for weight loss diets. Fiber fills you up quicker, allowing you to consume less calories than you would otherwise. In comparison to white eggplant, green eggplant is more effective for weight loss. This fruit classified as a vegetable is also low in cholesterol and protein, further hindering significant or rapid weight gain.

Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases

Eggplant is abundant in vitamins that promote heart health. It has both soluble and water-soluble vitamins. It’s high in Vitamin B1, which is essential for the heart and nervous system to work properly. Vitamin B6 is included to assist with cellular respiration. In addition, eggplant decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Promote Healthy Pregnancy

What a mother eats has an effect on the baby she is carrying. Pregnancy can lead to unhealthy cravings, behaviors, and hormonal imbalances, all of which can have a positive or negative impact on the infant. Eggplant is beneficial during pregnancy because its components aid in maintaining a healthy heart, lowering cholesterol, preventing starvation, preventing anemia, reducing fatigue, preventing edema, and controlling blood pressure, among other things.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

The eggplant’s high fiber content helps to lower cholesterol levels in the body. This protects the heart from developing heart disease, as well as the arteries from becoming clogged and obstructing proper blood flow.

Enhances Digestion

Eggplant is high in fiber and water, making it easy to digest. It digests food particles more quickly. This will boost the body’s metabolism, speed up digestion, and help you lose weight. If you’re following the fit fam trend and are concerned about your food not digesting quickly, add some eggplant in any way you like and it will work wonders.

Regulates Blood Sugar Level

The eggplant contains substances that prevent the body from absorbing glucose. This lowers blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for diabetic patients who must constantly monitor them.

Cures Cold and Cough

Eggplant contains vitamin C, an active ingredient that helps to fight colds, coughs, and scurvy. Vitamin C is required by the human body on its own.

Boosts Immune System

Eggplant has the ability to boost one’s immune system. This is due to its antibacterial properties, which can aid in the fight against diseases and thus strengthen the immune system. By blending it into a juice, all of these essential nutrients are more easily absorbed.

Builds Strong Bones

Strong bones and a strong body are essential for both the young and the old. Eggplant contains a significant amount of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are necessary for bone and tooth health.

Enhances Muscles Functioning

Eggplant contains a lot of potassium, which is necessary for body muscle function. Potassium aids in the proper contraction of muscles and regulates body fluids. It also aids in the transmission of nerve impulses and is essential for cardiovascular (heart) health in general.

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