Many of the foods in which nature has put beautiful colors protect us against things in the environment, such as free-radicals generated from the rays of the sun, and which also protect our cells from damage when we eat them. An interesting fact about eggplant is that it is considered a fruit even though botanically it is actually a berry and as a member of the nightshade family is related to the potato and tomato.
“The Nutritional Power of Purple: A substance called nasunin has been isolated from that deep purple pigment. Nasunin, a member of the anthocyanin category, is a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that it literally eats up free radicals, rogue molecules in your body that can cause serious damage to your cells and your DNA and are partly responsible for aging. In addition, nasunin protects against what’s called lipid peroxidation—that means it helps keep fats from turning rancid, including the fats in your body (like LDL cholesterol). The brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage, and studies have shown that anthocyanins in general are highly protective of animal brain tissue. Other studies show that nasunin binds to iron, which is a very good thing, as too much iron in the system can cause all kinds of problems.
“Eggplant isn’t a nutritional superstar, but it’s a really nice vegetable with 2.5 g of fiber in a cup that only costs you 34 calories. Plus it’s filling. …” 150 healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S. 2007, page 38.
Eggplant is also a good source of fiber, and is rich in vitamins B1, B3 and B6. B vitamins play an essential role in the proper function of the central nervous system, energy production, hormone balance and healthy liver function. Eggplant is also rich with nutrients while offering only 19 calories per cup.
Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while if an indentation remains, it is not. Do not cut eggplant before you store it as it degrades quickly once its skin has been punctured or its inner flesh exposed.
Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days. If it is too large for the crisper, do not try to force it in; this will damage the skin and cause the eggplant to spoil and decay. Instead, place it on a shelf within the refrigerator.
Eggplant can be baked, roasted in the oven, or steamed. If baking it whole, pierce the eggplant several times with a fork to make small holes for the steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes, depending upon size. You can test for its readiness by gently inserting a knife or fork to see if it passes through easily.
|Eggplant and Broccoli Stir Fry|
|1 eggplant, diced||1/4 tsp. paprika|
|2 cups broccoli, chopped||1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional|
|1 small red bell pepper, diced, optional||3 Tbsp. water|
|2 Tbsp. olive oil||1 tsp. salt|
|2 cloves garlic, minced|
|Sauté the eggplant, broccoli, red pepper and garlic in the olive oil over high heat for 3–5 minutes, until eggplant is lightly browned. Add salt, cayenne and paprika and stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium low. Add water and cover. Allow to cook another 5–7 minutes, until broccoli is tender. Eat as is or serve over rice.|