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Brinjal is one of the most common vegetables grown throughout the world for its purple, green or white fruit. Brinjal is the member of solanaceae family and is closely linked with tomato and potato. In the United States, Canada and Australia brinjal are known as Eggplant whereas the British name for brinjal is Aubergine. The name eggplant comes from the fact that some early cultivars of brinjal resembled geese eggs.

In ayurveda, brinjal is believed to have various medicinal properties. White brinjal is considered an excellent dietary supplement for diabetic people. Also,  brinjal contains significant values of Vitamin A, C, and minerals which help in maintaining body health.

It is an erect annual plant, coarsely lobbed with fuzzy, large and spiny leaves. Brinjal leaves are about 5 to 10 cms broad and 10 to 20 cms long. The plant usually reaches a height of 45 to 60 cms. The fruit of brinjal plant is a fleshy berry which is long to oval in shape. Brinjal fruit is generally purple to greenish in colour and contains tiny seeds which are bitter in taste. The flowers of this plant are white to purple.

Brinjal is native to India and Sri Lanka. Brinjal varieties have been grown in South and East Asian countries since antiquity. .Although brinjal has a long and rich history,  it did not have the reputation in the food culture as it has today. In fact, t  it was once considered a bitter and inauspicious food. It was even considered poisonous, causing problems like insanity, leprosy, and cancer. Hence, in older times, it was used more like a garden plant than a food in many parts of the world.

The 18th century brought the evolution of less bitter varieties of brinjal. This finally, got brinjal out of the garden and into the pantries. Today, brinjal has an esteemed place in many modern cuisines. They can be baked, fried, pickled, pureed, flavoured, steamed or barbecued. Brinjals are used as a dip or chutney in Mediterranean and Indian cuisine. They are used to prepare delicious Indian curries. Brinjals are also used to prepare a healthy and nutritious topping for pizzas. The cut vegetables are generally soaked in cold salted water before cooking to avoid discoloration and to get rid of its mild bitterness.

The major producer of brinjal includes Turkey, China, Japan, Egypt, and Italy. Eggplant is a popular vegetable crop in India especially in the southern states and is cultivated in various parts of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

Some basic facts about Brinjal:

  • Scientific name: Solanum Melongena
  • Family name: Nightshade
  • Common name: Baingan, Vangi, Eggplant
  • Sanskrit name: Vruntak
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Brinjal is still found to be grown in its natural conditions in  southern and eastern India  southern China, Philippines and Indonesia. But India remains the place where eggplant has been found since ancient times therefore brinjal  is regarded as the native of Asia. It is believed to be originated in the Indo Burma region.
  • Some interesting facts about brinjal:  A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993 shows that the eggplant has by far the highest levels of nicotine present in any vegetable. But the amount is so small that it did not gain much attention. Approximately 20 to 40 pounds of eggplant has the nicotine equivalent to one cigarette. It was called as Mala insana or “Crazy Apple” in the Renaissance Italy. Japan has a proverb for eggplant, “the happiest omen for a new year is first mount Fuji, then the Falcon, and lastly eggplant.”

  1. Brinjal nutrition facts
  2. Brinjal health benefits
  3. Brinjal side effects
  4. Takeaway

Eggplants are admired for its deep purple colour and glossy beauty. It has a pleasantly bitter taste and a spongy texture. Eggplant hosts many vitamins and minerals along with certain important phytonutrients which have been found to have potent antioxidant activity.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of raw eggplant contains the following nutritional values:

Nutrients Value per 100 g
Water 92.30 g
Energy 25 kcal
Protein 0.98 g
Fats 0.18 g
Carbohydrate 5.88 g
Fibre 3.0 g
Sugars 3.53 g
 
Minerals Value per 100 g
Calcium 9 mg
Iron 0.23 mg
Magnesium 14 mg
Phosphorus 24 mg
Potassium 229 mg
Sodium 2 mg
Zinc 0.16 mg
 
Vitamins Value per 100 g  
Vitamin A 1 µg  
Vitamin B1 0.039 mg  
Vitamin B2 0.037 mg  
Vitamin B3 0.649 mg  
Vitamin B-6 0.084 mg  
Vitamin B9 22 µg  
Vitamin C 2.2 mg  
Vitamin E 0.30 mg  
Vitamin K 3.5 µg  
 
Fats/ Fatty acids Value per 100 g
Saturated 0.034 g
Monounsaturated 0.016 g
Polyunsaturated 0.076 g

Brinjal is rich in nutrients

The human body requires nutrients to drive various biological activities. Nutrients are also essential for the growth and repair of the tissues. Eggplants are considered as a nutrient-dense food. They contain excellent amounts of minerals, vitamins, fibre, and bioactive compounds. Brinjals are low in calories, and they possess manganese, folate, potassium, vitamin K and Vitamin C in significant amounts. In fact, they are considered among the healthiest vegetables for human health and ranked among the top 10 vegetables in terms of their oxygen radical absorbance capacity. Eggplants also contain some amount of copper, niacin, and magnesium. Finally,  they are rich in phenolic acids particularly chlorogenic acid which is present in the flesh of the brinjal and anthocyanins which are present in brinjal skin. All of these compounds make brinjal the perfect supplement for health. 

Brinjal is rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances which help in protecting the body from free radical damage.. Studies show that the antioxidants can help in preventing various kinds of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Eggplants are rich in anthocyanins, a type of pigment which is responsible for its vibrant colour. Various test tube studies have suggested that anthocyanin present in eggplant is effective in protecting body cells against the damage caused by oxidative stress.

(Read more: Antioxidant rich food)

Brinjal for heart health

The antioxidants present in eggplants may be able to help in reducing the risk of heart ailments. A preclinical study documented eggplants to contain potential cardioprotective compounds because of their ability to increase left ventricular function and improve heart muscle strength. According to another study, eggplant is helpful in improving heart function and reducing the risk of heart attack.

It is important to notice that the researches have been limited only to animals and test tubes and further research is required to evaluate the efficiency of this plant in improving heart health.

(Read more: Heart disease symptoms)

Brinjal for diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that is caused due to a disturbance in glucose metabolism. Because of the high fibre and low soluble carbohydrate content of eggplant, National Diabetes Education Program of NIH, and American Diabetes Association recommend eggplant-based diet as the perfect dietary choice for the management of type 2 diabetes. Fibre can lower the blood sugar by slowing down the rate of digestion and absorption of sugars. Research suggests that certain natural plant compounds like polyphenols found in eggplant can help in reducing sugar absorption and increasing insulin secretion thereby resulting in lower blood sugar levels.

Brinjal for weight loss

Obesity is an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation primarily caused by a chronic imbalance between energy intake and expenditure. Factors like dietary choices and lifestyle have quickly turned obesity into one of the major concerns of the world. Eggplants are rich in dietary fibre which is responsible for making the digestive system perform in its full efficiency. Fibre travels through digestive tract and promotes satiety and fullness thereby reducing the calorie intake. Additionally,  eggplants are low in calories which makes them an outstanding addition to a weight loss regimen.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Brinjal benefits for brain

Researches conducted on animals suggest that nasunin (a type of anthocyanin) found in eggplant skin exhibits powerful antioxidant activities which can protect brain cell from free radical damage. It also helps in the transportation of nutrients to the cells and moving out waste. A study demonstrated  that nasunin is a potent oxygen scavenger and protects against lipid peroxidation which is otherwise responsible for neurodegeneration and loss of cognition

Another research showed that anthocyanins help in preventing neuroinflammation and facilitating the flow of blood to brain. They have been reported to possess the greatest potential for improving cognitive functions. Additionally, anthocyanins may help in improving memory and preventing age-related mental disorders.

(Read more: Dementia treatment)

Brinjal for bones

With increasing age, people become more vulnerable to the risk of bone degradation and osteoporosis. Several studies suggest the benefits of eggplant for maintaining bone health. Eggplants contain phenolic compounds which are responsible for its unique colouration. These compounds have been observed \to reduce the signs of osteoporosis and provide stronger bones with an increased mineral density.

Eggplant also contains a  significant amount of calcium (9 mg per 100 g of raw eggplant as per the USDA Nutrition Database) and phosphorus (24 mg per 100g of raw eggplant) which are responsible for the formation of bones and teeth. 

Brinjal prevents cancer

Cancer is believed to be by far the most severe and incurable disease. The treatments are usually expensive and at times turn out to be futile. Several studies have shown the anticancer properties of common food ingredients. The nightshade plants, including eggplant, have a compound present in them known as solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs). Preclinical studies suggest that SRGs are able to kill cancer cells and may also be helpful in reducing the recurrence of various kinds of cancer. Furthermore, SRGs along with cisplatin have shown to be most effective against lung cancer and breast cancer.

A cream formulation containing SRGs, when applied topically has been found to be effective on benign and malignant human skin tumours.

Glycoalkaloids (α-solamargine and α-solasonine) are nitrogen-containing secondary plant metabolites found in many Solanaceous plants including eggplants. Studies document that glycoalkaloids inhibit the growth of cancer cells as well as tumours. Also, a review of more than 200 studies has found that eating vegetables and fruits can be protective against colorectal, cervical, breast, stomach, bladder and pancreatic cancer.

  • Solanine and inflammation: Eggplants contain alkaloids like solanine which are calcium inhibitor, and cause mineral imbalance, increasing pain and swelling. Therefore, it has been suggested that people suffering from arthritis and other bone or joint disorders must avoid the consumption of eggplants.
  • Oxalates and kidney stones: Oxalates present in eggplant can contribute to kidney stone formation. People with kidney stones are advised not to consume eggplant. 
  • A random survey conducted on 600 people in Mysore city for detection of allergy to common fruits and vegetables, 11% of the participants were found to be allergic to eggplant due to the high content of histamine and serotonin present in it.  Some people may develop rashes, throat itching, hoarseness, urticaria and even face oedema on consumption of foods containing eggplants. (Read more: Allergy treatment)

Eggplant has innumerable health benefits for the human body. They can be a simple and delicious addition to a healthy diet and are versatile enough to be added to many dishes. But, with advantages come disadvantages. Eggplantconsumption must be limited to moderate. It should be avoided by allergics 

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References

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