Eggplant, scientific name Solanum melongena, is a plant belonging to the Solanaceae family that includes also tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. The plant is cultivated thanks to its edible fruits, big berries characterized by an elongated or more rounded shape, a peel color from purple to black and important healthful properties. Eggplants are indeed rich in mineral salts, such as potassium, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium, and vitamins, such as A, group B, C, K and J. They are also rich in water and have, for this reason, diuretic properties, useful against cystitis, and a detox effect and help in case of gout, rheumatism and inflammations of the urinary tract. Eggplants contain also fibers that are able to give a sense of satiety and counteract constipation.
Moreover, eggplants are also a source of powerful antioxidants, thanks to the anthocyans, the pigments that give the purple color to the peel and counteract the free radicals and the aging processes (Sadilova et al, Z Naturforsch C, 2006). In particular, eggplants contain a special and beneficial anthocyan called nasunin that, according to scientific studies, may be able to protect the cells form DNA damages and should play a role in counteracting the colon cancer (Jing et al, Food chem, 2015).
In addition to this, thanks to their antioxidant power eggplants have proved to have also cardio protective properties (Das et al, Food Funct, 2011). Eggplants are also helpful to keep under control the cholesterol, they are able in fact to lower the cholesterol levels, (Jorge et al, Arg Bras Cardiol, 1998), and are a good choice for those people who suffer from diabetes type 2 or that should pay attention to blood sugar because eggplants can slow down the absorption of sugars in the body (Kwon et al, Bioresour Technol, 2008). Eggplants are summer products and should not be eaten raw because they contain a substance, the solanine, that is toxic. The heat of course lowers the content in vitamins but, at the same time, increases that of antioxidants but, according to a scientific study, the properties of eggplants are the same both for raw and cooked vegetables (Das et al, Food Funct, 2011).