Eggplant

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 01. May. 2020
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Eggplant's delicious meaty texture, nutty flavor and surplus of health benefits have made it a popular vegetable in many cuisines throughout the world.

eggplant

Eggplant...

  • ...may help lower bad cholesterol. Fat-soluble fibers in eggplants can help to lower increased cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol).
  • ...is heart-healthy. Highly effective natural colorants in eggplants (anthocyanins) are said to help regulate high blood pressure.
  • ...helps slow down aging. Eggplant contain numerous so-called secondary plant substances such as terpenes, which protect our body cells from aging processes and can also prevent cancer.
  • ...can help with rheumatism. Secondary plant compounds are also the modern explanation for the ancient theory that eggplants are said to have a positive effect on rheumatism, sciatica and kidney problems. New studies show that there seems to be some truth in this.
  • ...regulate your fluid balance. Because of their high potassium content (224 milligrams per 100 grams) in combination with a low salt content, eggplants are rightly considered to be an effective means of activating the metabolism and especially for gently draining the body.
  • ...stimulates digestion. The bitter substances contained in eggplants support the release of digestive juices into the liver and gallbladder. In addition, these bitter substances stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin.
  • shouldn't be eaten raw. Raw or not fully cooked eggplants contain solanine, which causes stomach and intestinal problems and is only destroyed when heated.

What You Should Know About Eggplant

Around the Mediterranean, the eggplant is as much a part of everyday cuisine as tomatoes or garlic. It has been appreciated in southern Europe since the 13th century, and in India and China, eggplants have even been part of the menu for thousands of years.

It is easy to explain why they first made their European debut in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, and above all became native there: Eggplants need a lot of sun and warmth to thrive. 

Origins

Botanists suspect that the eggplant originally came from Asia. This theory is supported by the fact that the nightshade plant has been cultivated there for over 4000 years. Today eggplant are also cultivated in the USA and throughout Europe. In southern Europe they grow outdoors, in northern countries mainly in greenhouses.

Seasonality

Since eggplants are grown all over the world and also in greenhouses, they are available all year round. However, special varieties such as baby eggplant or yellow eggplant are mainly available in high and late summer.

Flavor

Eggplant have very little taste of their own. They develop complexity when cooked with strong seasoning.

Varieties

In southern Europe and Asia, you can find slender, long, light green or striped eggplant as well as small egg-shaped ones that are striped in white, yellow, orange-red or green-white. Accordingly, there are many different ways of preparing them all over the world.

How Healthy Is Eggplant?

Eggplants contain very few calories and are practically fat-free — ideal for figure-conscious vegetable fans. Because of their high potassium content, eggplants are also considered a perfect dietary food. The minimal amount of carbohydrates makes them a good choice for low-carb cooks and diabetics.

Raw eggplants are inedible and not recommended for health reasons because they contain solanine. The substance can cause stomach and intestinal problems, and is only destroyed by heating. The small seeds stuck in the flesh of the fruit can be eaten without worries.

Eggplant Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 17
Protein 1.2 g
Fat 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 2.5 g
Fiber 2.8 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

Eggplants harvested too early contain particularly high levels of solanine. Therefore, pay attention to the skin: if it is not too dark and has a matt shimmer, the ripeness is right. The edible seeds inside the eggplant and the flesh are also a clear indication: both should be white and not brown.

Storage

In the refrigerator, eggplant quickly lose their firm consistency and become "sticky." They should therefore only be kept at room temperature for one to two days. Storing eggplant together with other vegetables or fruits is also not good for them.

Preparation

Eggplant are quickly prepared: Just wash, then cut off the calyx and stem base. Always sprinkle the white flesh with a little vinegar or lemon juice immediately after halving the eggplant so that it does not turn brown. You can extract the bitter substances present by generously sprinkling them with salt.

To hollow out eggplant, for example for fillings, it is best to carefully cut the flesh into diamonds and remove them. This is particularly easy with baked eggplants.

What To Make With Eggplant

Eggplants are a real all-world food in the sense of the word: around the globe they are the main ingredient in such delicious dishes as Greek moussaka, Turkish imam bayildi or French ratatouille, to name but the most famous classics.

Whether stuffed and gratinated, braised, fried, boiled or deep-fried, the light, mild flesh of eggplants is compatible with practically any other ingredient and can also tolerate a strong dash of spices. It harmonises particularly well with tomatoes, garlic and Mediterranean herbs, or with oriental ingredients such as cinnamon, allspice and raisins. Baked eggplant pulp can be used with spices to make a delicious cream, which on flat bread becomes the perfect starter in an oriental menu. Eggplants provide a lot of variety, for example as a breaded schnitzel, in an oriental vegetable pan, as a delicious casserole, in a spicy coconut curry or as a hot pizza topping.

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