Why you can safely enjoy eggplant (or aubergine) this summer


By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Some people have the wrong idea about eggplant and believe that it is bad for you.

Google it and see for yourself. Scary headlines that ask why eggplant bad for you fill the search page and are often enough to fix an opinion before the facts are known.

This is why I decided to share why, I think, eggplants have received this undeserved reputation.

All plants contain phytochemicals, many of which we benefit from when we eat them as foods. The phytochemicals however are there for the benefit of the plants and some are poisonous offering protection to the plant at crucial cycles in the plant's growth.

Along with capsicum, tomatoes and potatoes, eggplants are members of the nightshade family and contain alkaloids, including solanine, which can be toxic if you eat the leaves and roots of the plant. But we don't eat the roots and leaves of the eggplant, we eat the fruit. It is worth pointing out that solanine is more concentrated in potatoes that have turned green so if you eat a lot of potatoes I suggest you buy them loose in small qualities and use them as you need them.

Eggplants contain small quantities of solanine in their skin and eating low-to-moderate amounts is unlikely to have a significant effect. It is worth saying that some people claim that nightshade vegetables aggravate arthritis pain and inflammation however these reports are anecdotal, and while we must never discount what might be true for some people, there are no scientific studies done to prove that they actually cause inflammation or make symptoms worse. Like everything else, I suggest you work out how your own body responds to certain foods.

If your iron levels are extremely high you may benefit from eating eggplant, conversely, if iron is extremely low you may be advised to limit the amount of eggplant you eat because the skin of the eggplant contains a powerful phytochemical called nasunin which binds with iron and removes it from cells. The simple solution, if you do have low iron, is to remove or not eat the skin and the problem is also removed.

And finally, a small percentage of people have allergies to eggplants, just as some do with eggs and nuts, which as you know, for the majority of people, are exceptionally healthy foods.

With all that dealt with let's take a quick look at why the majority of us can happily enjoy eggplant because it is such a delicious fruit - yes, it is a fruit and not a vegetable.

4 important reasons why we should eat eggplant

  • Eggplants are rich in fibre and antioxidants including nasunin, lutein, and zeaxanthin which help the body eliminate free radicals, the unstable molecules which can damage cells if they accumulate in large amounts.
  • Eggplants contain important nutrients for heart health, including anthocyanins, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. These nutrients help to reduce inflammatory markers which increase the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and protect arteries from stiffening.
  • Fibre in eggplant may decrease levels of low-density lipoprotein, and the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Eggplant also contains the antioxidant lutein which may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, leading to vision loss in older people.

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