Brinjal is a really versatile vegetable that is widely used in different cuisines of the world. Also known by various names such as eggplant, Aubergine, melongene, guinea squash and garden egg, this night shade species of vegetable is immensely beneficial for our health. It comes in a variety of colors and shapes and is enriched with plenty of nutrients and antioxidants. Eggplant can be prepared in many ways. It can be boiled, steamed, grilled, baked, or pickled. It has the ability to absorb all the other flavors in any dish, which makes it a versatile and delicious ingredient in various recipes. Besides being a tasty addition to a variety of dishes, eggplant is also packed with several health benefits. Including brinjal as part of a balanced diet not only keeps you healthy but can also help you lose weight and prevent a wide range of health problems.
Nutritional value of Brinjal
Eggplant is a low-calorie vegetable that helps you maintain a healthy weight. It is a great addition to a weight loss diet as it helps limit the intake of calories. It contains a high amount of dietary fiber that not only improves your digestive health but also helps lower your cholesterol levels, regulate your blood sugar levels, prevent constipation and lowers your risk of developing hemorrhoids. Brinjal also contains certain amounts of carbohydrates and fat. Another big advantage of eating eggplants is that it is rich in flavonoids such as anthocyanins that not only give color to the vegetable but also provides several health benefits to us humans. In addition to these nutrients, brinjal is also rich in vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, folate, vitamin B6 and choline. Minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium can also be obtained by consuming this vegetable.
Health benefits of Eggplant
The intake of fruits and vegetables have always been proven to be good for your overall health. Eggplant is one such vegetable, which when eaten regularly helps lower the risk of many lifestyle diseases including diabetes, heart problems, obesity etc. The nutritional benefits of brinjal not only keeps you healthy but also helps protect against these conditions. Here you can find some of the most important benefits of this vegetable that makes it one of the super foods:
Brinjal improves heart health
Nutrients like vitamin B-6, vitamin C, potassium, phytonutrients and dietary fiber found in eggplant are helpful in improving the health of your heart. This vegetable is rich in flavonoids that show powerful antioxidant properties. Studies indicate that eating foods rich in flavonoids known as anthocyanins plays a key role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. These flavonoids help keep your arteries healthy, thus preventing heart attack. Brinjal also helps in lowering bad cholesterol levels in the body and in controlling high blood pressure. Brinjal contains significant amounts of chlorogenic acid, which has been found to decrease LDL levels. The potassium in eggplant helps maintain the balance of electrolytes in the body. It helps in controlling blood pressure by neutralizing the effects of sodium in the body.
Brinjal improves skin health
Brinjal is packed with plenty of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that can make your skin clean and flawless. It also has a good amount of water that keeps your skin well hydrated, soft and supple. The high levels of anthocyanins found in this vegetable show antioxidant properties, which protect the skin cells from damage caused by free radicals. This helps in preventing the appearance of early aging signs like wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots and pigmentation. Studies reveal that some of the phytonutrients in eggplant has the ability to prevent skin cancer.
Hair benefits of brinjal
Applying eggplant juice on the hair helps to keep your hair strands stronger by nourishing the roots. The nutrients in brinjal moisturize the hair and scalp, keeping your hair healthy and strong. Eating this vegetable on a regular basis improves the texture of your hair and gives it a beautiful shine and luster. Eggplants contain certain enzymes that stimulate the growth of hair.
Brinjal fights against cancer
Eggplant is very high in polyphenols, which have been found to exhibit anti-cancer effects. These polyphenols possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they protect the cells of your body from damages caused by free radicals. This in turn helps in preventing the growth and proliferation of cancerous cells. The polyphenols also stimulate certain enzymes in the cells that produce a detoxifying effect and promote the death of cancer cells. The dietary fiber in this vegetable helps remove the toxins present in the digestive tract, which has been found to be helpful in the prevention of colon cancer.
Brinjal is an excellent brain food
The skin of eggplant contains an anthocyanin phytonutrient known as nasunin, which is a potent antioxidant. It functions as a free radical scavenger and protects the cells from serious damage. Animal studies indicate that nasunin has the ability to protect the lipids or fats in the brain cell membranes. These lipids play an important role in protecting the cells from free radical damage. It also helps in transporting nutrients into the cells as well as eliminating the wastes out of the cells. The phytonutrients boost the cognitive functions and improves mental health. They also improve the blood circulation to the brain and improve memory power.
Brinjal aids in weight loss
Brinjal is a low calorie, nutrient rich vegetable with high water content. The regular consumption of brinjal is therefore beneficial in promoting weight loss. Eggplant water, made by boiling eggplant in water for several minutes is considered to be effective in providing significant weight loss. This juice has diuretic properties and it detoxifies the body and improves the functioning of the kidneys. Brinjal fights cellulitis and aids in digestion. This helps in reducing body fat. It contains saponins that are known to reduce the absorption of fat. Moreover, the fiber in brinjal fills you up very quickly, thus reducing your appetite and your chances of overeating.
Brinjal improves gastrointestinal health
Just like most vegetables, brinjal is also a rich source for dietary fiber, which is essential for ensuring proper gastrointestinal health. Foods rich in fiber helps promote the regular movement of the bowels. It bulks up your stool and stimulates peristaltic motion, allowing the wastes to pass easily through the digestive tract. This helps in preventing digestive disorders like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber also stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, which is associated with processing the food you eat and facilitating the absorption of nutrients.
Brinjal helps manage diabetes
Brinjal is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber content. This makes it an ideal vegetable to be included in a diabetic diet. The glycemic index of brinjal is very low, which means that it does not produce unwanted spikes in the blood glucose levels. According to a study from the University of Massachusetts, extracts from many eggplant varieties have the ability to inhibit the action of an enzyme that converts starch to blood glucose. These extracts are enriched with phenolic compounds that helps regulate the absorption of glucose and thus manage type 2 diabetes.
Brinjal is a bone-healthy food
Eggplants are a wonderful source of bone healthy nutrients such as vitamin K, manganese and copper. These nutrients are essential for bone health. Vitamin K helps in increasing the mineral density of the bones, which in turn lowers the risks of fractures. Copper is a mineral that helps in the formation of collagen and strengthening of bones. Deficiency of copper has been linked to greater chances of developing osteoporosis. Adding eggplant to your regular diet is therefore helpful in keeping the bones strong and healthy.
Brinjal helps fight anemia
The deficiency of iron in the body often leads to anemia, a condition characterized by weakness, fatigue, headaches etc. Eating foods rich in iron, such as eggplants can help prevent anemia. Eggplants have a good amount of iron and copper, two minerals important for the production of red blood cells. As the number of red blood cells increase, the circulation of blood and oxygen through the body improves, thus preventing anemia and providing a great boost in strength and energy.
Eggplant prevents birth defects
Brinjal is one of the very few foods that have naturally occurring folate. This B complex vitamin plays a vital role in cell division as well as in the production of new cells. Pregnant women are usually recommended to take folate in order to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. Eggplant provides about 15 micrograms of folate, which constitutes to about 4 percent of the daily recommended intake of folate.
Eggplant should not be eaten raw because it contains an alkaloid known as solanine that is toxic to the body and may cause symptoms like headache and stomach aches. Cooking the vegetable helps get rid of the toxic substance. While buying eggplants, make sure that they are firm and fresh. They should have smooth and shiny skin, which is devoid of bruises and scars. Discolored eggplants with scarred skin are usually damaged and sometimes decayed. Keep unwashed and uncut eggplants in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator crisper. This way the vegetable will keep for a few days.
Courtesy : Priya Nayar
Krishi Jagran, New Delhi