Monday, November 15, 2010

Veggie of the Week: Eggplant (Baingan)


Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and is native to India. The early varieties were bitter, but cultivation and cross breeding have greatly improved the flavor. Eggplant is related to potatoes, tomatoes, and peppersand is available all year round.

Selection
Look for a symmetrical eggplant with smooth, uniformly colored skin. Tan patches, scars, or bruises indicate decay. Also avoid eggplants with wrinkled or flabby-looking skin. Oversized purple eggplants, usually over 6 inches in diameter, may be tough and bitter.

When you press gently on an eggplant, the finger mark will disappear quickly if the eggplant is fresh. Eggplant should feel heavy; one that feels light for its size may not have a good flavor. The stem and cap should be bright green.

Storage
Both cold and warm temperatures can damage eggplant. It is best to store eggplant uncut and unwashed in a plastic bag in the cooler section of the refrigerator. Do not force the eggplant into the crisper if it is too big, as this will bruise the vegetable. Eggplant may be blanched or steamed then frozen for up to 6 months.

Health benefits of Eggplant
1. Eggplant contains nasunin, which is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.
2. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber and low level of carbohydrate. That is why American Diabetes Association, The National Diabetes Education Program and Mayo Clinic recommend it as a choice for type 2 diabetes management.
3. Eggplant has beneficial effects of chelating iron are protecting blood cholesterol from peroxidation, reducing the rate of free radical damage in joints and preventing cellular damage that can promote cancer formation.
4.The potassium content in the eggplant helps in balancing the salt intake and maintains a good hydration level. Potassium plays an important role in regulating the blood pressure of the body as well.
5.Eggplants has an ability to act as anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-mutagenic and anti LDL, all of which is attributed to the action of a phenolic compound, chlorogenic acid, found in abundance in the vegetable. The acid is one of the strongest free radical scavengers found in the tissues of plants.

Sources: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, http://healthmad.com

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