Here are eggplant nutrition facts and health benefits. The health benefits of eggplant mentioned in this article are based on studies.
Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a very popular and versatile ingredient in a variety of cuisines. The vegetable is believed to have originated in India. In South Africa and parts of Asia, eggplants are referred to as “brinjal.” In the UK and Ireland, they are called “aubergine.”
Eggplants are a member of the Solanaceae family, also known as nightshades. Other common nightshades are tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. While these veggies are nutrient-dense, some people avoid them because they may cause inflammation, especially in those with certain types of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or psoriasis.
1. Eggplant Nutrition Facts
One cup of cubed raw eggplant (82g) provides 20 calories, 0.8g of protein, 4.8g of carbohydrates, and 0.1g of fat. Eggplant is a good source of fiber, manganese, and potassium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.
Carbs: One cup of raw eggplant contains 4.8 grams of carbohydrate, about half of which comes from fiber (2.4 grams). There are also almost 3 grams of naturally occurring sugars in eggplant.
Eggplant is a low-glycemic food. The glycemic load of eggplant is estimated to be 1 for a single serving.
Fats: Eggplant is almost completely fat-free.
Protein: There is less than 1 gram of protein in a single serving of eggplant.
Vitamins and Minerals: Eggplant is not a significant source of most vitamins and minerals. However, the vegetable provides manganese (10% of daily intake) and small amounts of potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, copper, and magnesium.
2. Health Benefits of Eggplant
Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is defined as a level above 130/80 mmHg. An estimated 45 percent of adults over 18 years old have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, dementia and kidney failure, per the Mayo Clinic.
In a November 2019 study in Nutrients, 100 people with normal-high or grade one high blood pressure were split into two groups, one receiving powdered eggplant and one receiving a placebo. The group taking the eggplant supplement (equal to 1/4 cup of raw eggplant) had significantly lower blood pressure and stress scores after 12 weeks compared to the placebo group.
Rich in Antioxidants
The dark purple color in the skin of eggplant comes from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin. Other foods high in anthocyanins include blueberries, cranberries and red cabbage.
Anthocyanins help protect plants from damage due to oxidative stress, per a February 2021 review in Physiologia Plantarum. As an antioxidant, it does the same for us when we eat them.
Animal, human and lab studies have found evidence that anthocyanins have antioxidative and antimicrobial properties and are linked to improved visual and neurological health, per an August 2017 review in Food and Nutrition Research.
Eggplant is a low-carb fruit with 2.5 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber from fruit, has an inverse relationship (the more fiber you eat, the lower your risk) with several diseases, including heart disease. In fact, soluble fiber is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and insoluble fiber is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, per a July 2020 study of more than 100,000 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Including eggplant, as well as other fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet is a great way to support your heart health.
In recent years, some have thrown shade at nightshade veggies (which include eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, and white potatoes) for potentially causing inflammation. The idea goes that substances called alkaloids in nightshades are poisonous to humans, increasing inflammation—and ultimately worsening conditions like arthritis, psoriasis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Fortunately, science doesn’t support removing eggplant from your diet to tame inflammation. No large-scale studies have associated eating nightshade vegetables with inflammatory health conditions. In fact, anthocyanins, the pigments that give eggplants their signature dark purple color, are also powerful antioxidants. Diets rich in antioxidants have been shown to reduce—not promote—inflammation.
Steady Blood Sugar
You can add eggplant to your list of tasty, blood-sugar-friendly foods. Estimates of eggplant’s glycemic index—aka how much it raises blood sugar—range from about 15 to 30. (Foods that rank below 55 are considered low on this scale.)
Not only does eggplant not dramatically raise blood sugar, but its fiber content could also help keep your glucose in check. Unlike other carbs, fiber passes through the body undigested and slows the absorption of blood sugar. Each cup of cubed eggplant contains 2.4 grams of this nutrient.
Boost Weight Loss
The fiber in eggplant isn’t just good for blood sugar (and, of course, digestive health). It’s also an important component in a successful weight loss plan. Eating plenty of fiber can help keep you feeling fuller longer, minimizing cravings. Not surprisingly, tons of studies have associated a higher-fiber diet with greater weight loss and even better adherence to a chosen diet.
Meanwhile, eggplant is seriously low in calories. An entire cup contains just 20 cals! If you’re looking to lose weight, feel free to add it to salads, curries, or baba ghanoush for extra flavor and heft—without the high-calorie price tag.