Eggplant Nutrition – For the Love of Eggplant

Eggplant Nutrition – For the Love of Eggplant
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.


Knowing what eggplant nutrition can add to your diet can be helpful in learning to like it if you don’t already. Eggplants have a lot of benefits and a couple of drawbacks that you should know so that you can make it a part of your healthy eating plan.

Phil and I went for lunch this past weekend to my high school gym teacher’s country home. We’ve kept in touch because her son (who I never knew in high school because he went to a different one) was in the same program as Phil and I in university, and we became friends.

She made an amazing lunch, the main dish being a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants in Victoria, BC, since her and her husband had just got back from visiting there. This recipe involves eggplant, and it came up that our friend is fairly anti-eggplant.

After being singled out, he actually ate all of his eggplant. To applaud his efforts, I decided to write a little bit about eggplant nutrition, and why it was a good thing for him to be shamed into eating it.

Now, for most of my life I did not like eggplant one bit. Mainly because I had some in a dish at a restaurant that was cooked terribly and I assumed that was just what eggplant was like.

Luckily, since then I’ve discovered that eggplant really isn’t as bad as it was that one time. I say luckily because I’ve also learned about eggplant nutrition and why it’s a good vegetable to add to the rotation occasionally.

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If you’re on a healthy eating plan, one more vegetable in the line-up is always good, but it’s also really important for meat-eaters to get more vegetables in their life. Eggplant is loaded with fiber and water, like other vegetables, helping to get the colon moving other foods along your digestive tract. It also makes a meal more filling with few calories (as long as it isn’t cooked in a lot of oil). Most of its calories are from carbohydrates, but there is a small amount of protein too.

Folate and manganese are found in pretty decent quantities in eggplant – 5% and 10% of your daily recommended intake per cup respectively. There’s also 5% of your daily intake of potassium, along with a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals, in that cup.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, eggplant is important in clearing stagnant blood and blood accumulations. That view is supported in Western medicine by eggplant’s high levels of bioflavonoids, which strengthen arteries and work as antioxidants in your blood stream.

Eggplant’s quirkier uses include treating snack and scorpion bites, with a pack of raw eggplant, and frostbite, with a compress of room-temperature eggplant tea (From Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods).

A Few Eggplant Preparation Tips

There are a couple of downsides to eggplant, but they can easily be overcome if you’re aware of them. The first is that eggplant will suck up any liquid it comes in contact with while it cooks – especially oil. Restaurants will cook eggplant with a ton of oil, so when eating out it’s not the best choice. If you’re cooking it at home, it will look dry when you saute it and seem to cry out for more oil. Don’t do it! It doesn’t need it.

Steaming eggplant instead of frying will avoid oil, although it’s not as tasty that way. Another trick is to rub some salt into the cut eggplant and leave it to sweat for 15 minutes or so. This takes away some of the bitterness of the eggplant, and also makes it moist so that it won’t be as dry in the pan.

The other downside to eggplant is that it’s a member of the nightshade family (along with potatoes, tomatoes and peppers) that has some toxins at low levels – primarily solanine. Some people are more sensitive to nightshades than others, and since the toxins can aggravate inflammation people with arthritis and other inflammatory issues shouldn’t eat nightshades. Solanine and other toxins in nightshades are mostly neutralized by baking or cooking the vegetable with salt. Serving them with parsley or seaweed can also help.

I hope this look at eggplant nutrition motivated you to pick one up next time you’re at the grocery store. If you need some ideas for what to make with your eggplant, I have some vegan eggplant recipes over on my healthy vegan recipes site.

One of my favorite meals with eggplant was this French Ratataouille Recipe that I made with the help of our couchsurfing hosts when Phil and I were staying just outside of Paris.

What’s your favorite dish to make with eggplant?


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