Is Eggplant Healthy?
Everything you need to know about eggplant nutrition—and why some people avoid it.
Whether you're wondering how to cook eggplant or have mastered eggplant Parmesan, you may be asking "is eggplant healthy?" But it's time to push our skepticism aside because not only can you enjoy it in a variety of different ways (think: eggplant lasagna, grilled eggplant and roasted eggplant), but it's nutritious too. Here is everything you need to know about eggplant nutrition.
Pictured recipe: Eggplant Lasagna Rolls
The nutrition facts for a one-cup serving of cubed eggplant:
- Calories: 20
- Protein: 1g
- Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 5g
- Fiber: 3g
- Sugar: 3g
- Potassium: 188mg
Aside from vitamins and minerals, eggplants are packed with anthocyanins. Not only are these compounds responsible for the veggie's beautiful purple hue, but studies have shown the compounds offer a wealth of health benefits–from reducing the risk of heart disease to minimizing oxidative stress and preventing cancer. (Read: we'll take all of the eggplant recipes we can get our hands on, thank you!)
Eggplant skin is also a good source of nasunin, an antioxidant believed to scavenge your brain for harmful free radicals that can attack and damage the outer membranes of brain cells, impairing their ability to function at their peak.
Carbs in Eggplant
If you're concerned about carbs in eggplant, we should remind you that you should be eating carbs–they're not bad for you. Second, all vegetables have carbohydrates (some just have more than others). With only 5 grams of carbohydrates per cup, eggplants are great if you're watching your carb intake for health reasons rather than weight loss.
Pictured recipe: Grilled Eggplant & Baba Ghanoush
Vegetables are one of the best foods you can eat if you're watching your weight. They are all relatively low in calories and deliver lots of nutrition with each bite. Eggplant is no exception. With 3 grams of fiber, one cup of eggplant knocks out about 10 percent of your daily fiber intake. Fiber not only keeps your GI tract moving, but it also helps manage your blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
What About Nightshades?
Some people worry about eggplants because they're a member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, white potatoes and bell peppers. According to some, the solanine (an organic compound) in nightshades causes inflammation. But the Arthritis Foundation knocks these claims suggesting there is no scientific research to back them. Some people have reported improved symptoms with inflammatory conditions (like psoriasis and eczema) when they avoid nightshades but that doesn't mean the research is clear cut. Of course, if you feel like eating these vegetables increases your symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor about trying an elimination diet. They're typically used to find out what you have allergic reactions to, but they can also help you identify what's causing inflammation. Otherwise, there's no reason you shouldn't be enjoying those nightshades.
The Bottom Line
From grilled eggplant to eggplant Parmesan, we can't get enough of this delicious veggie. And now that we're aware of an eggplant's health benefits, it might even be our new go-to. From its versatility in the kitchen to its antioxidant power and heart health benefits, this veggie just keeps getting better. Time to eat up.