Eggplant or Brinjal, is a very low calorie vegetable and has healthy nutrition profile; good news for weight watchers! The veggie is popularly known as aubergine in the western world.
Botanically, it belongs to solanaceae family and named as Solanum melongena. This perennial plant is native to Indian subcontinent and now grown in many tropical and semitropical regions.
Several different varieties aubergines are grown all around the world. Depending on the cultivar type, they vary greatly in size, shape, and color. Generally, these veggies falls into two broad categories, either oval shaped or thin and elongated.
The plant reaches about 3-4 feet tall in quick time and bears many bright fruits. Each fruit has smooth, glossy skin. Internally, it features off-white color pulp with numerous centrally arranged small, soft seeds. Fruits are generally harvested when they reach maturity but short of full stage ripeness.
Health benefits of Eggplant (aubergine)
- Eggplant is very low in calories and fats but rich in soluble fiber content. 100 g provides just 24 calories but contributes about 9% of RDA of fiber.
- Research studies at the Institute of Biology of São Paulo State University, Brazil showed that eggplant is effective in the treatment of high blood cholesterol.
- It contains good amounts of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and required for fat, protein and carbohydrates metabolism.
- It is also good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron and potassium. Manganese is used as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Potassium is an important intracellular electrolyte helps counter the hypertension effects of sodium.
- The peel or skin (deep blue/purple varieties) of aubergine has significant amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that these anti-oxidants have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
Selection and storage
Buy healthy looking, firm, shiny, bright colored fruits that feel heavy and solid. Take a close look at the stalk; if it is stout, firm and green that means the fruit is fresh.
Avoid those with wrinkled skin, soft in hand and with any surface cuts or bruise. Always avoid over-mature, old-stock, and soft eggplants as they taste bitter and unappetizing.
At home, they can be kept in cool place for a day or two but ideally placed in the refrigerator set at high relative humidity, where the keep fresh for few days.
Preparation and serving methods
Wash eggplant thoroughly in cold water before use. Trim the stalk end using sharp knife. Sprinkle a pinch of fine salt or soak the pieces in salt water to remove the bitter compounds. Whole fruit including its skin and fine seeds are edible.
Whole, cubed, or sliced aubergine used in variety of recipes.
Here are some serving tips:
- Spicy aubergine slices in general used as favorite side dish in salads and appetizers.
- Brinjals, as they popularly known in South-Asian region, feature mainly in many kinds of Indian cuisines. It can be stew fried, roasted, baked or ground (baingan bartha, baingan chutney) in the preparation of variety of recipes.
- In Southern India, it is chopped into cubes and used in curry, chutney, and with rice (brinjal pulao).
- In Southern Europe, Turkey, and Middle-East where aubergines are one of the common ingredients used in variety of delicious recipes like mousaka (eggplant casserole), baba ghanoush (mashed eggplant preparation similar to South Asian baingan ki bartha), breadcrumbs, imam bayildi (stuffed) etc.
- Stewed Asparagus spears sandwiched with aubergine slice is a popular recipe in Mediterranean region.
- It is also widely used in pickling.
Eggplant (aubergine) contains very small amount of nicotine than any other edible plant with a concentration of 0.01mg/100g. However, the amount of nicotine from eggplant or any other food is negligible and therefore shall not warrant against its usage. So, enjoy!
Here are some of my healthy recipes that feature Eggplant:
Source : www.nutrition-and-you.com