Introduction: Eggplant, also known as Aubergine or Brinjal, is one of the most widely cultivated food crops in India and Sri Lanka. Famous for its purple-colored fruit, the eggplant is known to contain certain beneficial nutrients and is now widely cultivated in several parts of the world.
History: First ever recorded eggplant cultivation happened in the 5th century B.C. in India and China. The plant was later introduced to Africa, Middle East and then to Italy. Now, it is cultivated in several parts of Europe, Middle East, Africa and United States. Today, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, China and Japan are the largest producers of eggplant.
Description: The botanical name of eggplant or aubergine is Solanum melongena. It belongs to the plant family of Solanaceae. It is commonly referred to as a member of nightshade plants that also include potatoes, tomatoes and sweet pepper. Different varieties of eggplant have been developed around the world and all these varieties are distinguished based on the size, shape and color of the fruit.
Nutritional Profile: Eggplant is a very good source of protein and dietary fiber. Other important nutrients that are present in eggplant include potassium, manganese, copper and Vitamin B1. It is also known to provide the body with Vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and niacin. Eggplant also contains good reservoirs of phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid. 92 percent of the fruit is filled with water. Eggplant is completely devoid of cholesterol.
Benefits: Phytonutrients present in eggplant can effectively neutralize the levels of free radicals and other toxins with their antioxidant property. Due to lack of cholesterol, eggplant can be used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Nasunin present in the eggplant preserves the fats and other lipids inside the brain cell membranes from getting oxidized. Phenolic compounds like chlorogenic acid present inside eggplant are known to have antimutagenic, antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-LDL properties. Eggplant is also useful in improving cardiovascular health in case of heart patients.