The eggplant has many names. It’s called aubergine in the States, eggplant in Europe, brinjal in Asia, and briganya in Kiswahili. It’s easy to speculate that the Swahili word was borrowed from its Asian counterpart and it entered the Kenyan diet through the migration of Indians into Kenya during the construction of the railway.

Aubergine was first cultivated in the eastern (China being the largest producer, 57% of the world’s total) and southern parts (India which produces 27% of the world’s total) of Asia. There are related species of the eggplant family that are native to Africa, the Scarlette eggplant and the Gboma eggplant which are both native to west Africa.

It is a member of the nightshade family which also contains foods like potatoes, tomatoes, bell, and chili pepper. Just like its cousin the tomato, the eggplant is technically a fruit although it’s treated and consumed like a vegetable.  Economically speaking, it’s the 5th most important nightshade plant after the:

  • potato,
  • tomato,
  • tobacco, and
  • pepper crops.

It has a variety of cultivars(cultivated varieties) that differ greatly in size, shape, and color. The name eggplant originated in northern America where a certain variety eerily resembles chicken eggs.

diverse eggplant cultivars
the different types of eggplants cultivated around the world

In Kenya, the most common varieties are colored purple and come in two shapes: the long-courgette shaped and a shorter much rounder almost teardrop shape. There are many more varieties grown all over the world though, with some even having fruits that weigh about a kilogram each!

Eggplants have a mild meaty taste that can act as a great meat substitute for people who are trying to cut down on meat consumption. Also, eggplant benefits can not be overstated especially if you’re trying to cut weight.

It’s also one of the vegetables that can be used in almost any dish due to its tendency to absorb the flavors around it and the mild flavor it gives off which doesn’t overpower the flavor profile of your dish. In short, it’s the perfect sidekick; versatile, packed with nutrients, and not too bold to subvert the star of the show.

white eggplants
the variety that gave eggplants their name

Eggplant benefits and nutritional information

  1. Packed with nutrients.

Eggplants are nutrient dense in that they contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in few calories.

One cup (82 grams)  contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 5 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Manganese: 10% of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake )
  • Folate: 5% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 3% of the RDI

They also contain small amounts of other nutrients, including niacin, magnesium, and copper.

  1. High in Antioxidants

In addition to containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, they boast a high number of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful substances known as free radicals that can help prevent many types of chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer

They are especially rich in anthocyanins, a type of pigment in the skin with antioxidant properties that’s responsible for their vibrant color

Their flesh is also filled with another type of antioxidant called polyphenols which are so reactive with the oxygen in the air they cause the flesh to turn brown once sliced open.

  1. May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Thanks to their antioxidant content, some studies suggest that eggplants may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

In one study, rabbits with high cholesterol were given 0.3 ounces (10 ml) of eggplant juice daily for two weeks.

At the end of the study, they had lower levels of both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, two blood markers that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease when elevated

While these results are promising, it’s important to note that current research is limited to animal and test-tube studies. Further research is needed to evaluate how it may affect heart health in humans.

  1. May Promote Blood Sugar Control

Adding eggplants to your diet may help keep your blood sugar in check.

This is primarily because eggplants are high in fiber, which passes through the digestive system intact

Fiber can lower blood sugar by slowing the rate of digestion and absorption of sugar in the body. Slower absorption keeps blood sugar levels steady and prevents spikes and crashes

Other research suggests that polyphenols, or natural plant compounds, found in foods like eggplant may reduce sugar absorption and increase insulin secretion, both of which can help lower blood sugar

  1. Could Help With Weight Loss

Eggplants are high in fiber and low in calories, making them an excellent addition to any weight loss regimen.

Fiber moves through the digestive tract slowly and can promote fullness and satiety, reducing calorie intake.

That fact paired with the fact that it reduces sugar intake makes it a great way to lose weight while getting the nutrients needed.

  1. May Have Cancer-Fighting Benefits

Eggplant contains several substances that show potential in fighting cancer cells.

For instance, solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs) are a type of compound found in some nightshade plants, including eggplant.

Furthermore, several studies have found that eating more fruits and vegetables, such as eggplant, may protect against certain types of cancer.

However, more research is needed to determine how the compounds found in eggplants may specifically affect cancer in humans.

  1. Very Easy to Add to Your Diet

Eggplant is incredibly versatile and can be easily incorporated into your diet.

It can be baked, roasted, grilled or sautéed

It can also be used as a low-calorie replacement for many high-calorie ingredients. E.g. meat.

This can reduce your carb and calorie intake, all while increasing the fiber and nutrient content of your meal.

Eggplant Coconut Currie Recipe

I’ll leave you with a recipe you can try out



Step 1

Line a plate with paper towels. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat. Add eggplant; cook and stir until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove eggplant from wok; drain on paper towels.

Step 2

Combine onions and garlic in the same pan. Add red bell peppers; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Season with curry powder. Pour in coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add eggplant. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly until flavors are combined, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with coriander.




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