While eggplants don’t have an overwhelming supply of any one nutrient, they do contain an impressive array across the board of many vitamins and minerals, such as excellent amounts of fiber, folate, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid.
Studies indicate that eggplant has a number of health benefits from all these ingredients, as well as traditional uses. Sometimes, the leaves and roots are juiced or boiled to make a tonic for throat and stomach troubles, asthma, skin diseases, rheumatism, inflammation, intestinal hemorrhages, foot pain, coughs, anorexia, toothache, or as a general stimulant.
Modern-day scientists found that the Black Magic variety of eggplant contains nearly three times the amount of antioxidant phenolics they found in other eggplant types. Phenols are known to be one of the most powerful free radical scavengers, which can prevent cancer development and heart disease, but it’s these very attributes that give eggplants a slight bitter taste.
Another study found that anthocyanin phytonutrients in the skin of eggplants, called nasunin, is a potent antioxidant that zaps free radicals and protects the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes from damage.
One interesting aspect of eggplant is its shady connections, since it’s a member of the nightshade family of plants with tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers, as well as chili peppers, habeneros, jalapenos, and paprika. Many nutritionists caution that too many servings of eggplant might cause problems. In fact, ancient Mediterranean people reportedly nicknamed it “mad apple,” believing that eating eggplant every day for a month would cause insanity.
India recently charged Monsanto with biopiracy for alleged attempts to genetically modify indigenous eggplants.