Few veggies are as beautifully colored as the eggplant, also known as aubergine, which is the name given to the deep, dark, brownish purple color reminiscent of its name-sake. Other names around the world associated with this staple in Mediterranean cuisine include brinjals, guinea squash and melongene.
Though considered a culinary vegetable, eggplants are technically fruit (berries) from the Solanaceae family, whose members are known as ‘nightshades’. There are more than 2,000 species in this family, the vast majority of which are inedible and many of which are highly poisonous (like deadly nightshade, aka belladonna, and jimsom weed). Other edible members include potatoes (but not sweet potatoes), tomatoes, peppers, and tobacco. Members of this family don’t always get the best reputation because of their association with inflammatory compounds, but for those who can tolerate them, they can be a worthy dietary addition!
The origin of eggplants is unclear but it believed to have been originally domesticated independently in South and East Asia, where it has been cultivated since prehistory. At one time, this ‘veggie’ was believed to be extremely poisonous due to its close relation to other deadly nightshades. Though traditionally purple, colors of this fruit can vary from white to yellow to green, pink or red, with some varieties having color gradients or striping. The name ‘eggplant’ was given because some versions of this ‘veggie’ are small, white in color and shaped just like a chicken egg! Interestingly, in both Italian and Egyptian folklore, eggplant was said to cause insanity. While there’s no science to support this claim, I do think it’s crazy that Americans only consume an average of 1.03 pounds of this “egg-cellent” veggie each year!
Nutrivore Score for Eggplant – 563
Eggplant has a Nutrivore Score of 563, making it a high nutrient-dense food! Plus, it is a low-carb and low-calorie-density food; the calorie count of eggplant is just 21 calories per cup!
Per serving, eggplant is an excellent source (20-50% daily value) of polyphenols.
Eggplant Nutrition Facts
One serving of eggplant is standardized to 1 cup, cubes or about 82 grams (2.9 ounces). For reference: 1 eggplant, unpeeled, is roughly 548 grams (approximately 1 1/4 lbs) or between 6 and 7 servings. When you cook eggplant, it reduces in volume: 1 cup raw eggplant is roughly equivalent to a little more than 3/4 cup boiled eggplant.
|Eggplant, raw||Nutrivore Score: 563||Nutrient Density: High|
|Serving Size: 1 cup, cubes (82 grams)||Protein: 0.8 grams||Net Carbohydrates: 2.4 grams|
|Calories: 21||Total Fat: 0.1 grams||Dietary Fiber: 2.5 grams|
|Vitamin A||0.8 μg RAE||0% DV|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||32.0 μg||3% DV|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||30.3 μg||2% DV|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.5 mg||3% DV|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.2 mg||5% DV|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||68.9 μg||4% DV|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||2.3 μg||8% DV|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||18.0 μg||5% DV|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin C||1.8 mg||2% DV|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin E||0.2 mg||2% DV|
|Vitamin K||2.9 μg||2% DV|
|Choline||5.7 mg||1% DV|
|Calcium||7.4 mg||1% DV|
|Copper||66.4 μg||7% DV|
|Iron||0.2 mg||1% DV|
|Magnesium||11.5 mg||3% DV|
|Manganese||190.2 μg||8% DV|
|Phosphorus||19.7 mg||2% DV|
|Potassium||187.8 mg||4% DV|
|Selenium||0.2 μg||0% DV|
|Sodium||1.6 mg||0% DV|
|Zinc||0.1 mg||1% DV|
|AMINO ACIDS & PEPTIDES|
Eggplant Nutrition Varies With Cooking
The Nutrivore Score of eggplant varies depending on the method of preparation.
|Eggplant, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt||425|
|Eggplant, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt||414|
Health Benefits of Eggplant Nutrients
Let’s take a closer look at all of the best and excellent source of nutrients found in a 1-cup serving of eggplant and see how they benefit our health.
Eggplant Provides 278.8 mg of Polyphenols
Eggplant is an excellent source of polyphenols, providing 278.8 mg of polyphenols per 1-cup serving!
Polyphenols play a huge role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions associated with oxidative stress. In fact, a major reason foods like red wine and olive oil (as well as diets rich in both, such as the Mediterranean diet) show up as so beneficial may be due to their high polyphenol content! Along with chronic diseases, supplementing with polyphenols has been shown to protect against infections and reduce the signs of aging. Polyphenols exert their most potent effects by acting as antioxidants—preventing cellular damage by neutralizing hazardous oxygen radicals and improving cellular health as a result (which, in turn, benefits virtually every system in the body). As a result of their antioxidant properties, polyphenols also boost the immune system and protect against both chronic and acute diseases. In addition, polyphenols can help regulate enzyme function, stimulate cell receptors, modulate the functions of inflammatory cells (including T and B lymphocytes, macrophages, platelets, and natural killer cells), alter adhesion molecule expression, affect nerve cells and cardiac muscle cells, and exert antiviral effects. Learn more about polyphenols here.
How Much Eggplant Should We Eat Per Day?
Members of the nightshade family are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients but may be problematic to some due to the presence of inflammatory compounds.
Every serving of fresh, whole vegetables or fruit we eat daily reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 5% to 8%, with the greatest risk reduction seen when we consume eight or more servings per day. In fact, consuming 800 grams of vegetables and fruits daily reduces all-cause mortality by 31% compared to eating less than 40 grams daily. A 2017 meta-analysis showed that 2.24 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, 660,000 deaths from cancer, and 7.8 million deaths from all causes could be avoided globally each year if everyone consumed 800 grams of veggies and fruits every day.
Eating vegetables and fruit in abundance lowers risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis and bone fragility fractures (including hip fracture), cognitive impairment and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), neurodegenerative diseases, asthma, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, depression, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory polyarthritis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and lowers markers of inflammation. Learn more in Importance of Vegetables and Fruit.
Covering half of your plate with a variety of vegetables (and three quarters of your plate if your starchy food is a root vegetable or winter squash) at each meal is a simple way to easily achieve the goal of 800 grams daily (about 5 to 8 servings depending on the vegetable).
Just remember, it’s always best to mix up the foods you eat day to day (aiming for a wide variety of different vegetables and fruits throughout the week), and eggplant definitely has a place at the table.
Expand to see all scientific references for this article.
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USDA Food Central Database: Eggplant, raw
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