The eggplant is one of the vegetables that people eat today.
Long prized for its deeply purple, glossy beauty as well as its unique taste and texture, eggplants are now available in markets throughout the year, but they are at their very best from August through October when they are in season.
Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes. They grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height. While the different varieties do range slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe the eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture.
In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin.
One of the health benefits of eggplant is fiber. It acts as a sweep and helps remove unwanted substances like toxins and free radicals from the body, since they can cause serious disorders like heart diseases and cancer. Also, fiber reduces low-lipid lipoproteins or bad cholesterol in the bloodstream, helping reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders like hypertension, coronary artery disease, and stroke. Fiber also promotes digestion, so gastrointestinal problems like constipation, diverticulitis, and hemorrhoids are prevented.
Another health benefit of eggplant is its antioxidant properties. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, eggplant contains nasunin, which is anthocyananin phytonutrient, antioxidant, and free radical scavenger, which has demonstrated its power to safeguard cell membranes from damage.
Cell membranes are responsible for defending the cells from free radicals as its selective permeability allows passage of nutrients and wastes in and out of the cells. Thus, nasunin prevents cell damage and breakdown, since it helps the body get rid of toxins and free radicals. Nasunin has a similar function to the mineral selenium, which also protects lipid-rich cell membranes.
Aside from the fiber and antioxidants found in eggplants, the vegetable also contains potassium, vitamin B, and vitamin C. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, as cited by Medical News Today, consuming foods rich in flavonoids, such as eggplant, reduces a person’s risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases.
A number of studies also revealed that eating foods rich the flavonoid anthocyanins can also help reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. For instance, a clinical trial found that higher intake of anthocyanins was linked with considerably lower blood pressure. As per Care 2, baking the vegetable brings out its “glorioud flavor” and gives its overall goodness, as compare to the fried one.
One recipe that has eggplant as ingredients is Italian Style Eggplant Parmesan Melanzane Alla Parmigiana. According to Serious Eats, the ingredients include eggplant, Kosher salt, vegetable oil, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh oregano leaves.
To prepare, as per the publication, the oven is preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, a large cast iron skillet s filled with half-inch oil and heated over high heat until shimmering. Next, the eggplant slices are friend and turned for about five minutes, until both sides become brown in color. After that, the fried eggplant is transferred to a paper-towel lined baking sheet and sprinkled with salt. The process is repeated with the remaining eggplant and oil is used to top up the ingredients, as needed. Then, a layer of eggplant slices are arranged in a six-cup baking dish and they are topped with tomato sauce, which is followed by shredded mozzarella and oregano leaves. The baking dish is continually layered with eggplant, cheese, and herbs; oregano is not used to top the parmigiana. Once done, the eggplant parmigiana is baked for 20 minutes until it bubbles and browns on top. It is allowed to stand for ten minutes to reabsorb the juices. Finally, the dish is sprinkled with oregano leaves and served.
h/t: healthybuilderz.com/eggplant-health-benefits/ ; whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=22&tname=foodspice