Eggplant has many names depending on where you are in the world and what century you refer to. It has quite an interesting history and would turn my blog post into a research paper, so before I move on to why you should eat it, let me tell you that it can be traced back to China around 500 b.c., although India claims to be it's native country.
The eggplant comes in different colors ranging from white-yellow, to light purple-"eggplant." Nutritionally speaking, as the eggplant varies in color, so does its nutritional value, the darker the eggplant, the more it has because of the phytochemicals contained as the color of the skin deepens. As with all foods, vegetables and fruits included, eggplant is a fruit by the way, how it is prepared will also affect how nutritious it is. Steaming, grilling, and baking will keep the nutritional value of the eggplant and enhance it. Dr. Mercola states that although eggplant is not known for being high in any one nutrient, it has amazing health benefits from an large array of vitamins and minerals: fiber, folate, potassium, manganese, vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. Do you peel your eggplant? DON'T. The skin of fruits and vegetables contain the most nutrients.
Eggplant is a member of the Nightshades which also includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, goji berries,and many other species. In the same breath that I tell you why you should eat eggplant, I will tell you why you should be cautious. Nightshades are known to be inflammatory to some, aggravating certain conditions associated with autoimmune, IBS, and others. This inflammation can result in joint pain, reflux, and several other symptoms. Eggplant is brain food and can reduce your risk of cancer. It is considered a specialty in many countries.
It should keep well on your countertop out of direct sunlight, or in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, for around 3-5 days. The eggplant does not generally have a long shelf life and my advice would be to prepare your eggplant as soon as possible.
Thoroughly wash. Trim the top stem with leaves and the end. I never follow the salt/soak/rinse. I simply slice, chop, half, or whole poked with holes. Raw, although not very flavorful, sauteed, baked, grilled, roasted, pickled.
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Thank you for reading my blog. -Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP
References: Dr. Mercola, LiveStrong, Dr. Axe.