Eggplants grown from vines, in much the same way as tomatoes. They are delicious grilled or roasted in olive oil or added to curries. Eggplants also make a good dip, mixed with mayonnaise and spices. The health benefits of eggplants include antioxidant and cancer prevention and improved brain function.
Much of the nutrition is found in the tougher purple skin of the eggplant. Eggplants are quite unique in their nutritional profile. They are a good source of thiamin, niacin and vitamin B6 and the minerals magnesium, manganese and copper. Eggplant contains a wide array of phytonutrients including caffeic acid, the anthocyanin called nasunin as well as the phenolic compound, chlorogenic acid. There are up to 13 other phenolic compounds in eggplant. Phenolic compounds give eggplant its distinctive bitter taste.
Eggplants and Cancer Prevention
The presence of phenolic compounds in eggplant make it a powerful free radical scavenger, with cholorogenic acid showing anti-cancer and antimicrobial effects. Eggplant has one of the highest concentrations of phenolic compounds of any vegetables.
Eggplants Improve Brain Function
Nasunin is an antioxidant that helps protect brain cell membrane lipids from damage, thereby improving cellular communication.
Rich in Phenolic Antioxidant Compounds
Researchers at the US Agricultural Service in Beltsville, Maryland, have found that eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from exposure to the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi.
Eggplants and Wound Healing
Nasunin is able to induce a process called angiogenesis, a physiological process involving the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones. Angiogenesis is vital to growth and development and is useful in wound healing.
Eggplant is one of the nightshade vegetables (together with tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes). There is some evidence, although not conclusive, that nightshade vegetables can aggravate arthritis symptoms.
In addition, the process of angiogenesis that eggplant can induce may also play a role in the conversion of benign to malignant tumours.