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Health Food of the month - Aubergines

May 2016

When I was young and soon after I had my own kitchen for the very first time, I accidently bought some aubergine instead of beetroot.
I know, don’t ask! 

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Crab

Chocolate

Oats


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

But in those days aubergines weren’t too popular foods that everyone used on a regular basis, and certainly the excellent health benefits of these vibrant purple plants weren’t widely known.

Today lots of research has been done into aubergines, and now we know that it makes sense to include them fairly regularly in a diet because they are packed with lots of great nutrients.

Augbergines have lots of other names… eggplants, guinea squash and even garden eggs, and they can come in a variety of shapes and colours from small and oblong to long and skinny as well as the more traditional oval egg shape (hence the name egg plant). They can also come in shades of lavender, jade green and even yellow as well as bright purple.

Aubergines, along with tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade family of plants. They grow very much in the same way as tomatoes, hanging from high vines. They are thought to be native to South East Asia and were introduced into Africa before spreading up to the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the world. Interestingly, they often used to be grown just for decoration and colour in the garden rather than as a food.

But today we know better, because research has shown that aubergines really are good for us. They contain a good mix of essential vitamins B1 and B6 plus they are high in the minerals of copper, magnesium and manganese. They are also rich in antioxidants…we are always harping on about these but antioxidants are key in good health as they help protect body cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Even better, aubergines are particularly rich in nasunin which is found in the skin of the aubergine and gives the plant its dramatic purple colour. Nasunin is a potent antioxidant and powerful fighter against free radicals and has been found to protect the lipid fats in brain cell membranes. These fats play a crucial part in the health of our brain.

Aubergines also help remove excess iron from the body. While we all need iron to help transport oxygen around in our blood plus other benefits, too much iron can be a problem and nasunin can help to ensure the correct balance.

Research has also shown that the phenolic compounds in aubergines contain significant amounts of chlorogenic acid, one of the most powerful free radical scavengers found in plants plus it may also decrease LDL levels…or bad cholesterol.

Even better, aubergines are high in fibre and low in fat which is great for those of us trying to manage our weight.  A cup of raw eggplant contains just 20 calories and there are lots of exciting recipes that show you don’t need to add calorie rich fats or sauces to include aubergines in tasty meals.

When buying aubergines, choose ones that feel heavy with a smooth, taut, unblemished skin and fresh green stalks. They damage easily, so transport them with care, but they will keep well in the fridge for a few days.

 


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