Eggplant 101: Proven Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts (Carbs, Calories, Protein, Fiber, Vitamins)

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Health benefits and nutrition of eggplant
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Eggplant (also called aubergine) is instantly recognized for its long shape, purple edible skin, and spongy texture. You can also find different varieties of eggplants with some having black skins, green skins, or white skins. While technically a fruit, eggplant is consumed as a vegetable and is used in Asian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Eggplants belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and are related to tomatoes and potatoes. The name eggplant comes from one variety of the fruit that looks similar to a white hen’s egg, giving rise to the other name of “garden eggs.” You can also find different varieties of eggplants with some having black skins, green skins, or white skins.

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Eggplant isn’t very palatable raw, and tastes better when grilled, roasted, baked, or fried. Eggplant is a mild tasting vegetable and its spongy, absorbent flesh absorbs flavors and oils during cooking.

If you are consuming eggplant for its many health benefits, then you should always eat it with the skin on. The eggplant skin is a rich source of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. Eggplant seeds are also edible and have excellent health benefits.

In this article, you will learn about the nutritional benefits of the eggplant. You will also find out why consuming more eggplant is very good for you.

Nutritional Value of Eggplant

Eggplant is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is low in calories and high in antioxidants. Eggplant is a low crab vegetable and it rates low on the glycemic index chart. It has minimal levels of sodium (7mg in one whole eggplant).

Although the nutrient value of eggplant isn’t as impressive as other vegetables, there are some unique phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant chemicals) in eggplant.

According to some studies, steaming, boiling or baking is the best way to prepare eggplant to keep most of its antioxidants. (19) When preparing eggplants you should avoid frying, as eggplants tend to absorb a lot of oil which will increase the calorie and fat content of your meal.

Because eggplant is nearly 90% water and because it is mostly eaten cooked, the nutritional values in this article are for cooked eggplant.

Calories in eggplant

Eggplant is a low-calorie vegetable which you can eat as part of a healthy diet. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 g of cooked eggplant only contains 35 calories. (1)

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Roasting, grilling, or baking eggplant will have about the same number of calories unless, of course, you drizzle the eggplant slices with olive oil.

For example, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan say that a healthy grilled eggplant dish containing ¼ large eggplant, ½ tomato, some Parmesan cheese, and olive oil only contains about 90 calories. (2)

When preparing eggplant slices to grill, some recipes advise sprinkling salt on the flesh to draw out excess water from the eggplant. You should rinse the salt off after 20 minutes, drizzle with some olive oil, and then place under the grill to create tasty cooked eggplant slices.

The benefits of using olive oil when roasting or baking eggplant are that it is a healthy fat with many anti-inflammatory properties.

Carbs in eggplant

Eggplant is a low-carb vegetable that can be enjoyed by many people who are diabetic or want to lose weight.

One cup of cooked eggplant cubes contains 8.6 g of carbs and has a low glycemic load of 2. Eggplant’s low glycemic load is due to the fact that 25% of its carb content is fiber. Fiber helps to slow down the digestion process and provides a stable source of energy for the body. (1)

The net carb count in 100 g of cooked eggplant is just 5.6 g.

Eggplant is a good source of fiber

Studies have shown that eggplant is good for weight loss and healthy digestion due to it being high in fiber and low in fat.

A 100-gram serving of steamed, grilled, or roasted eggplant contains 2.5 grams of fiber. This accounts for 10% of your recommended daily fiber intake (RDI). (1)

Protein in eggplant

Eggplant contains a small amount of protein with just under a gram in a cup of cooked eggplant (100 g). If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can try these sources of plant based protein.

Vitamins and minerals in eggplant

Eggplant contains modest amounts of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as B-group vitamins. The most plentiful vitamin in eggplant is vitamin K with each serving of 100 g containing nearly 3 mcg of vitamin K (4% EDI).

You will also get some micronutrients in eggplants such as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, and copper.

Antioxidants in eggplant

Many of the health benefits of eggplant come from the high levels of antioxidants found in the skin.

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The rich antioxidant content of eggplant is mainly due to compounds called anthocyanins. These give eggplant skin its distinctive black or purple color. Studies have found that anthocyanins in eggplant skin are good for their powerful antioxidant capacity. (3)

One type of antioxidant unique to eggplant peel is nasunin. Studies have shown that eggplant nasunin has potent free radical scavenging activity that can help protect against oxidative stress in the body. (4)

Learn more about the health benefits of consuming foods rich in antioxidants.

How Cooking Affects Nutrients in Eggplant

Eggplant is one of the few vegetables that tastes better when it is cooked rather than eaten raw. But does cooking affect the nutritional value of eggplant?

Studies have shown that some cooking methods can enhance the nutritional value of eggplant. For example, grilling eggplant increases the number of antioxidants such as nasunin. However, grilling or baking could lower the level of essential vitamins such as vitamin C, A, and beta-carotene. (5, 6)

Health Benefits of Eggplant

Let’s look in more detail at why eggplant is good for you and how to use it in your diet.

Eggplant is a Heart-Healthy Food

One of the reasons to eat cooked eggplant with the skin on is because it is packed with heart-healthy antioxidants.

Researchers have found that compounds in eggplant peel help protect cardiovascular health. Grilling eggplant also helped to increase antioxidant levels to make them a functional food for a healthy heart. (7)

A 2019 study found that eggplant skin contains cardioprotective compounds that have a positive effect on blood pressure. Researchers concluded that eggplant has potential use as a food to help to control hypertension. (8)

Similar studies have shown that eggplant contains compounds that can help lower blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. (9)

Eggplant also contains nutrients that may help lower cholesterol levels. One study involving animal subjects found that eggplant juice helped to bring down levels of LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol. (10)

Eggplant is just one of the many foods you can add to a cardiac diet to help lower your risk of heart disease.

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Eggplant is a Diabetes-Friendly Food

Because eggplant is a low-carb food that is high in fiber, it is a good food to eat if you have diabetes. However, there are a number of other reasons why eggplant is good for diabetes.

First of all, eggplant is a non-starchy vegetable with a low glycemic index – two important factors for diabetic-friendly foods.

Scientists have found that consuming foods rich in polyphenols such as eggplant may help lower blood sugar. The dark pigments in eggplant skin can help to boost insulin secretion and inhibit blood sugar absorption. (11)

One study already mentioned in this article found that antioxidants in eggplant may help to lower blood glucose levels. (9)

Learn about the many other foods that are good for diabetes and that help to prevent blood glucose spikes after eating.

Eggplant Promotes Good Digestion

The high fiber content of eggplant means that eating slices of baked or roasted eggplant is good for your digestive health.

A one-cup serving of cooked eggplant contains 10% of your daily fiber needs. According to the Mayo Clinic, men need between 30 and 38 grams of fiber a day and women need 21 to 25 grams. (12)

Another reason why using eggplant as a healthy ingredient in meals is its high water content. Researchers from Harvard Medical School say that hydration and fiber are essential to keep bowel movements regular and prevent hard, lumpy stool. (13)

You can find out what else you should eat to improve your digestion and why probiotics can boost your gut health.

Eggplant is Good for Losing Weight as Part of a Healthy Diet

Low-calorie, fiber-rich eggplant can be added to your weight-loss diet to nourish your body and make you feel fuller for longer.

One cup of cooked eggplant only contains 35 calories and is a low-fat tasty addition to your diet. The high fiber content of eggplant helps to increase satiety which helps you eat less and snack less often.

Many weight-loss diets also recommend using eggplant in place of other ingredients that are higher in calories.

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Learn more about proven ways to lose weight based on sciences, and which foods to eat if you want to burn belly fat.

Eggplant May Help Liver Function

Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants such as the skin from eggplant are good for helping to keep your liver healthy.

One study involving rats found that phenolic acids and flavonoids from eggplant helped to reduce inflammation. The eggplant extracts improved liver and kidney function and reduced levels of blood fats. (14)

To help keep your liver functioning as it should, you should make sure and avoid liver-damaging habits. Also, increasing liver-friendly foods in your diet can help to prevent damage to this vital organ.

Eggplant has Anticancer Properties

The skin of eggplant contains important antioxidants that may help in cancer prevention.

The National Cancer Institute reports that it’s important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to nourish and protect the body. Antioxidants from healthy foods help to neutralize free radicals which could have a role in helping to prevent cancer. (15)

Lab trials have found that extracts from eggplant skins have potential use in helping to kill off cancer cells. (16)

An anticancer compound called solasodine is also present in eggplant and can help prevent the spread of lung cancer tumors. (17)

Other studies have found that anthocyanins from dark fruits and vegetables such as eggplant can help prevent various types of cancer from spreading. (18)

Of course, it is good to remember that the anticancer effect of eggplant has only been demonstrated in the lab, not on humans. However, most doctors agree that enjoying a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help prevent the development of cancer.

Learn more about the anti-cancer diet and how to cook food to help prevent carcinogenic compounds from forming.

How to Cook Eggplant for its Health Benefits

Eggplant is a very versatile vegetable that can easily be eaten as a side dish or added to stews, curries, or other dishes.

Many people recommend chopping or slicing the eggplant and then sprinkling some salt over the flesh and leaving them for about 20-30 minutes. This helps to draw out moisture and some bitter compounds in the eggplant so they will cook better.

You can then grill, bake, sauté, or roast eggplant. Always remember to leave the edible skin on the flesh as this contains many healthy phytochemicals. Eggplant seeds are also edible and don’t need to be removed before cooking.

You can also make a delicious and healthy eggplant dip by cutting 2 eggplants in half lengthwise and baking them in the oven for 35 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and add your favorite ingredients such as garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, and olive oil to create a health-boosting dip.

According to some studies, steaming is the best way to prepare eggplant to prevent loss of its antioxidants. However, baked and boiled eggplant still contain a significant number of antioxidant compounds. (19) Avoid frying, as eggplant tends to absorb a lot of oil, although salting it and drawing out the water beforehand reduces somewhat the oil absorption.

Precautions and Side Effects of Eating Too Many Eggplants

There are no reports of adverse effects of consuming eggplants in reasonable food amounts. However, one of the precautions with eating a lot of eggplant is its oxalate content. When this substance becomes too concentrated in the body, it can crystallize and increase the risk of kidney stones and joint inflammation in some people.

If you are concerned about the oxalate content, then boiling eggplants can reduce oxalate levels by up to 87%. (20)

According to allergy researchers, some people show allergic reactions when eating eggplant. (21)

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