You may call it a brinjal, an aubergine, a guinea squash or an eggplant. These are all names for this fruit that is used as a vegetable. Along with tomatoes and potatoes, eggplant is a member of the deadly nightshade family of plants. The foliage is toxic in most of these plants. Tomatoes were long believed to be poisonous in Europe and the United States and were called love apples in reference to the Garden of Eden. Eggplant was also considered poisonous and the fruit called mad apples. Even before the original small egg-shaped fruit was developed into the large purple fruit of today, eggplant was enjoyed by people in Middle Eastern countries. In India, it has been eaten for 2,000 years.
A cup of cubed and cooked eggplant or brinjal contains small amounts of 11 vitamins. The most plentiful are vitamins A and folate. Vitamin A is one of the fat soluble vitamins and is essential to the immune system. In small amounts, it is required for vitamin D to function properly. The plant form of vitamin A contained in brinjal is easily converted by your body to the form it needs.
The folate in brinjal is the natural form of this B-complex vitamin. The form found in supplements is called folic acid. Folate has many critical functions in your body. This includes the metabolism of several amino acids and the actual synthesis of DNA. The discovery that either folate or folic acid can greatly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in babies has made obtaining enough of this substance even more critical, especially for women in the childbearing years.
Eggplant also contains vitamin C , which supports the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant. It also contains B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and choline, which are all in the B-complex vitamin group and interact with each other. For example, vitamin B6 is necessary for the action of folate. Brinjal also contains vitamins E and K. These are all present in quite small amounts, but help increase your daily total of natural vitamins. This fruit does not contain the recommended daily intake of any single vitamin. However, brinjal does contain other nutrients, such as minerals and trace minerals. It is a source of complex carbohydrates and is low in both fat and calories.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Eggplant, Raw
- Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; Linus Pauling Institute Oregon State University; 2006
- “The Merck Manual” Seventeenth Edition; Editors Beers, MD and Berkow, MD; 1999