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Eggplants: From Misunderstood to Delightfully Good

Filed Under: Health Foods at 1:28 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
EggplantWhen eggplant was first introduced to Europe, it carried with it a bitter taste and an even more sour reputation. Women viewed it with disdain, choosing to use it as decoration rather than nourishment. Folklore cited it as the cause of leprosy, cancer and insanity. It was a shunned fruit, a blight on the produce world. Over time, advancements in cultivation lessened eggplant’s bitter tang and allowed it to reinvent its less than stellar name. Today, we recognize eggplant for what it is: a fruit awash in flavor, color and health benefits.

Eggplant, as most dark colored produce is, is filled with flavonoids and antioxidants. The star antioxidant, nasunin, works to protect the lipids in brain cell membranes, meaning it, indirectly, ushers nutrients in and flushes waste out, allowing your cells to function normally. The fruit also effectively combats cholesterol. In fact, studies found that it not only significantly reduces negative cholesterol levels but increases blood flow as well, so your overall cardiovascular health improves, too.  And then, of course, there are all the vitamins and minerals in eggplant, such as fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B3 and B6, folate, magnesium and tryptophan. Each bite is loaded with them . . . but not with fat. That’s virtually nonexistent, as are the calories. One cup of eggplant will set you back a mere 38 calories.  Therefore, you clearly want as much eggplant in your life as possible, but how do you make sure you’re getting the best of a phenomenal food?

Let’s start with purchasing. Optimal eggplant-time is from August through October, so you’ve only got a few weeks left to get the best of the best. You want to look for vividly colored (typically dark, deep purple), heavy fruits. Once you’ve made your selection, press your thumb into the eggplant’s skin. If the dent disappears quickly, keep it. When you get home, your options are limitless.  The classic meals are, obviously, eggplant parmesan and ratatouille. However, eggplant can be baked, steamed, roasted, fried (not necessarily healthy, but more than delicious) and even microwaved. It’s suggested that you season with allspice, basil, parsley, bay leaves, chili powder, garlic or thyme. Whichever method and spice you choose, the result is bound to be wonderful, for your taste buds and your health.

2 Responses to “Eggplants: From Misunderstood to Delightfully Good”

  1. Leonidas says:

    Wow that picture was a bit startling at first!

  2. Walrus says:

    Don’t dare speak pejoratively of fried ‘plant…it’s flavor: almost overwhelmingly awash…

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