Plant profile

Unknown eggplant

Aubergine, brinjal, tomato-fruited eggplant, gilos, guinea squash, mad apple, nasubi or…eggplant. Interesting name for an interesting plant. Not actually popular in European cuisine,  this plant was a victim of prejudices for a long time: it has been branded as a non-nutrition food and even assumed as one of the reason for insanity. But wait, eggplant will surprise you even more. First of all: it’s a berry.

It’s origin is probably India, where it continues to grow wild. This plant has already been cultivated in India and China for more than 1500 years. As these countries have a long history of consuming this berry, we can find some traditions and interesting facts about eggplant there:

  • Chinese fashion ladies made a black dye of eggplant, to polish their teeth so that they gleamed as metal;   
  • The oldest reference to eggplant is in a Chinese book of 5th century;
  • Brides in China had to know non less than 12 recipes with eggplant before their wedding days;
  • More than 30 names of eggplant in Sanskrit can be found in ancient Indian literature;
  • Eggplant is considered to be a king of vegetables in India.

Much later eggplant started it’s journey to the Arabic countries and Africa and Arabs introduced it to Europe. By 1800s eggplants were brought to a New World. But thanks to its bitter taste, people in Italy believed that “mad apple” can cause insanity, cancer and even leprosy. For centuries eggplant had been used just as a decoration for garden, until new varieties of eggplant, that were developed in the 18th century, changed the situation and it took its deserved place in cuisines of Greece, Turkey, France and Italy.     

People mostly know it as dark purple, stretched plant. But eggplant got Its name because of one of its’ variety, which looks exactly like an egg. Talking about variety, there are many types of eggplant: white, yellow, orange, purple, round, stretched, egg-sized and even the size of a pumpkin, with the plant itself growing from 45 cm to 5m.

Despite of its reputation, eggplant is a source of different necessary elements needed for you to live healthy. From 100g of eggplant you can get 31% of Calcium, 4% of Vitamin C and 2% of dietary fiber of daily value [1]. All this coming alone with 24 calories, which makes eggplant a good food for those who monitor their weight.

There are some benefits of consuming this berry:

  • Thanks to its skin, eggplant is a good source of nasunin – the antioxidant, which helps to eliminate free radicals;
  • Eggplants contain essential phyto nutrients which improve blood circulation and nourish the brain;
  • Eggplants rich in fiber, which protects the digestive tract and can help you feel full;
  • Thanks to the high fiber and low soluble carbohydrate, eggplant can be used for controlling diabetes;
  • Eggplants are high in bioflavonoids, which are known to control high blood pressure and relieve stress [2].

As usual, you just need to be careful with way of cooking this plant. It’s known as a natural “sponge”, which means that if you fry it, you will need a lot of oil and will get a really heavy meal in the end. The best solutions for eggplant is to either bake, grill or boil it. If you want to spoil yourself with eggplant out of season, you can try pickling: mash it or puree with a bit of garlic and enjoy your healthy choice on winter days!

Diana Podgurskaia





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