Eggplant (botanical name Solanum melongena), commonly known as brinjal, is a perennially growing vegetable that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. More often than not, the eggplant grows up to anything between 16 inches and 57 inches in height and has prickly stems. The fruits of eggplant or brinjal come in a variety of colors, including yellow-white, lavender, jade green and orange. However, the flesh of the fruit is creamy hued having a pleasingly bitter flavor, primarily owing to the presence of tiny amounts of nicotinoid alkaloids, and has a spongy texture.
Eggplant was cultivated for the first time in China, way back in the 5th century B.C. Prior to this date, the eggplant grew in the wild in the Indian forests. Several countries, including Italy and Africa became familiar with the eggplant during the medieval ages, while the plant was taken to the European and the Middle East countries sometime during the 14th century. Currently, the major cultivators of this vegetable species include China, Egypt, Italy, Japan and Turkey.
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Although the color as well as the shape of brinjal or the eggplant fruit makes it somewhat unattractive to majority of the people, actually the eggplant encloses rich amounts of dietary fiber, which is essential for the human body for appropriate digestion. In addition, the eggplant is also an excellent natural source of the vital minerals for the body, including magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus. In addition, eggplants may also be excellent source of B-complex vitamins (counting vitamin B1, B6, folic acid, B3 and B12).
The eggplant has the aptitude to supply us with several health benefits provided it is used in the proper manner. The health benefits offered by eggplant also include curing as well as preventing cancer. In fact, it has been found that eggplant is especially effective in treating colon cancer owing to the high quantity of dietary fiber. It may be noted that fiber is essential for treating colon cancer since it is a comparatively permeable nutrient and also owing to the fact that as the ingested eggplant moves through the digestive tract, it has a propensity to soak up toxins and chemicals that may result in the development of colon cancer. For optimum results, people who are keen to lessen their perils of developing colon cancer ought to be sure that they include the skin of the eggplant when they consume the vegetable. Several researches have found that the skin of brinjal or eggplant is likely to enclose additional fiber compared to the flesh of the vegetable.
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As mentioned above in this article, eggplant encloses high quantities of fiber, making the vegetable an excellent food for fighting cancer. However, the fiber present in eggplant also has additional utilities; for instance, it has the aptitude to become an effective tool for people who are endeavouring to lose weight. In reality, fiber is a comparatively filling food and this denotes that it consumes plenty of space in the stomach. Hence, consumption of eggplant in a salad or in the form of an appetizer prior to any meal may help dieters to have greater sense of having satiated and they will usually eat lesser calories, and by this means achieving a considerable weight loss over a period of time. Moreover, fiber is very sluggish in digesting and it takes a substantial time to progress from the stomach to the digestive tract. Owing to this fact, the eggplant helps to keep dieters having a sensation of being full for a prolonged period and, thus, they will not be enticed to have snacks between meals. This, in turn, again helps in losing weight.
Eggplant encloses also large amounts of water and likewise, apart from fat and bone, our bodies are primarily composed of water. In fact, water plays several vital roles in various pathways through our body, but it has been found to be particularly important in maintaining the health of our skin and hair. People who feel dehydrated are more prone to exhibit hair that is sparse, arid and has split ends, together with the skin that seems to be scaly, dry having several lines and wrinkles. Therefore, it is important to consume sufficient amounts of water itself or by means of food items, for instance, eggplant. This will not only help to enhance the quality of our hair and skin, but the general functioning of our body. For optimum results, you ought to consume eggplants raw. In fact, researches have discovered that cooking eggplant deprives the vegetable of much of its water content that is extremely beneficial for our health.
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While iron is indispensible for several biological processes in our body, accumulation of excessive amount of iron is not beneficial for our health and may result in specific detrimental effects in our body. Enhanced build up of iron inside our body results in the rise of production of harmful free radicals in our body and the free radicals are related to increased risk of heart ailments and cancer. Therefore, it is essential to get rid of the surplus iron from the body with a view to lessen the production of free radicals. And this can be achieved through the presence of a phytonutrient in eggplant called nasunin.
Being a strong antioxidant, nasunin helps to protect the brain cell membranes from any type of injury and damage. This is actually vital since the membrane shields the cells from damage by free radicals and permitting the admission of nutrients as well as the exit of detrimental waste products. In addition, it also gets orders from the courier molecules saying exactly what actions the different cells ought to perform at any particular time.
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Eggplants have additional important functions too and they include their antiviral, antimicrobial, anti LDL and antimutagenic properties - all these have been attributed to the actions of chlorogenic acid and phenolic compounds that are present in profusion in this vegetable. In fact, the chlorogenic acid is among the most potent scavenger of free radicals present in the tissues of this plant.
In addition, the eggplant is also a valuable and high source of dietary fibers that are helpful for the appropriate functioning of the digestive system and also work to protect us from coronary heart ailments. Eggplant also has a high potassium content that facilitates in maintaining a balance in the ingestion of salt and sustains an excellent hydration level. In addition, the level of potassium in the body also has a very important function in controlling the blood pressure levels.
Other health benefits offered by eggplants include their ability to lower the blood glucose levels in patients suffering from type II diabetes. This action of the vegetable is attributed to the fact that eggplant encloses low levels of carbohydrates and high amounts of fiber. Actually, consumption of eggplant is considered to be a natural way of regulating diabetes.
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It may be noted that eggplants enclose substantial amounts of oxalates. Hence, this causes a harmful effect in the body as the intensified levels of oxalate usually crystallize that eventually result in specific health problems. This is the primary reason as to why people who are assumed to have kidney or gallbladder disorders or if these are untreated, they ought to strictly avoid eating eggplants.
Specific instances of allergic symptoms to eggplants, such as itchiness in the skin and the mouth have been reported several times. There have also been several reports of people contacting dermatitis when they are exposed to the leaves of this plant. In addition, hypersensitive reactions have also been reported several times owing to reactions caused by the eggplant flower pollens.
Before cutting eggplant/ brinjal, it is important to cleanse it meticulously under cold running water and then cut off the ends. Subsequently, use a steel knife to cut the vegetable into portions. It is not advisable to make use of a carbon steel knife for this task since it reacts with the phytonutrients present in the plant resulting in the vegetable to turn black.
You may consume eggplants with or even after peeling off the skin of the vegetable. If you are using larger eggplants that have rough skins, you may peel off the skin prior to cutting the vegetable or if you are baking the eggplant, you may scoop out the flesh when the vegetable has been cooked appropriately. Usually, eggplants have a somewhat bitter flavour. In order to lessen this bitterness, you may sweat the vegetable by salting it and allowing it to remain in the same condition for about 30 minutes. When you apply this method, some of the water enclosed by the vegetable will come out, which will make the vegetable less porous to soak up any oil use in cooking the vegetable.
It is possible to cook eggplant in many different ways. They can be steamed, baked or also roasted in the oven.