Eggplants

Eggplants

EggplantsEggplants are also known as aubergine, melongene or guinea squash. They can be distinguished from other vegetables by their egg-like shape and the vibrant colour they have. Most people know eggplants as having a dark purple colour. However, the vegetable comes in a range of colours and shapes. This article will provide information on the history of eggplants, its health benefits and it will provide some tips on how you can cook eggplant.

Description

Eggplant is also referred to as “aubergine” in many parts of the world. The term “aubergine” is mainly used in France. The vegetable is known and has often been praise for its unique texture and taste. Eggplants belong to the same family as potatoes, bell peppers and tomatoes. This plant family is called Solanaceae, as is also known as the family of nightshade. Eggplants grow in a similar fashion as tomatoes. They hang from the vines of a plant. This plant usually does not become very big, and is usually only several feet in height. One of the most popular types of eggplants in the United States has a similar shape as that of a pear-shaped egg. It is for this reason that the vegetable is referred to as eggplant. The skin of the vegetable is often glossy and it has a deep purple colour. While the skin is glossy, the flesh of the eggplant has a spongy texture and has a cream colour. Within the flesh are small seeds which are edible. The seeds are arranged in such a way that they have a conical pattern. Apart from the well-known purple coloured eggplant, there are many other varieties of eggplants. Other varieties of eggplants can have a jade green, orange, yellow and lavender colour. Besides the colour of the vegetable, eggplants can also come in various sized and shapes. For example, there are eggplants which are as small as a tomato or they can be the same size as a large zucchini. Apart from the different colours and sizes, eggplants can also slightly vary in texture and taste. Most people describe eggplants as having a slight bitter taste. In the majority of recipes in which eggplants are used, the vegetable usually serves as a complementary ingredient. It usually serves as an ingredient which balances the flavours of the other pronounced ingredients.

History

It is said that wild eggplants were first cultivated in parts of China and India around 500 AD. The first time eggplants were mentioned in ancient writing was in Ancient Chinese texts. These writings are said to date back to the year 544. Eggplants were introduced throughout the Mediterranean by the Arabs. It is suggested that this happened during the period of the early Middle Ages. Evidence also suggests that it was also during this time that the vegetable was introduced in Spain. Similar to France, in Spain they also refer to the vegetable as “aubergine”, and it is still used in various classic Spanish dishes. Only around the 16 century were eggplants spread to the rest of the European continent. Up until today, eggplants are used in almost every European country. However, the countries which have adopted eggplant as a staple food in their cuisines are the Mediterranean countries. Eggplants were introduced in the Americas when European explorers arrived. However, many people did not eat the vegetable for many years. This was due to the fact that they believed that the vegetable was poisonous because of its deep purple colour. Also, since many people did not know the health benefits of this new vegetable by the time, they decided that it would be best to stay away from the vegetable. Some of the countries which are the main commercial producers of eggplants include India, Iran, China, Turkey and Egypt. China alone already produces almost sixty percent of the world’s eggplant crops. While eggplants are predominantly used in countries situated it the Mediterranean, the vegetable is also used in many other parts of the world. For example, the vegetable is also used in India, Thailand and France.

Prevention of various health diseases

One of the health benefits of eggplants is that it can play a role in preventing cancer. They are a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are crucial in protecting the body from a wide variety of conditions and diseases. Moreover, eggplants contain vitamin C. Vitamin C are a crucial vitamin for the immune system because they stimulate the activity and production of white blood cells. Another important nutrients which is to be found in eggplants is manganese. Manganese is not only an essential mineral, but it is also a natural antioxidant. Together with nasunin and cholorgenic acid, these antioxidants protect the body from free radicals. Also, they play a role in protecting the body from bacterial and viral compounds. Free radicals are considered to be the by-product of cellular metabolism. These free radicals can attack healthy cells which could eventually result in the development of cancer cells. Thus, having high levels of antioxidants in your body protects your body from harmful diseases. These could include heart diseases as well as the development of cancer cells. A specific quality of nasunin has only recently been discovered. Various studies have concluded that this compound has been linked to inhibiting detrimental behaviour in the brain. These studies have also suggested that free radicals play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease as well as dementia. Thus, for people suffering from these cognitive disorders, eggplant can provide significant health benefits. Another health benefit of eggplants is that they contain iron. Iron deficiency can be dangerous for one’s overall health. If one does not treat iron deficiency, it can eventually lead to anemia. Anemia is characterized by migraines, fatigue and cognitive malfunction. Thus, eating foods which are high in iron can combat anemia. Eggplants also contain copper. This compound is an essential component of red blood cells. If you lack both iron and copper, the red blood cells in your body will decrease. Healthier red blood cells will not only boost your energy levels but will also lead to you feeling less weak.


Additional health benefits

Another health benefit of eggplants is that they contribute to bone health. Eggplants are therefore especially recommended for people who are at high risk of osteoporosis and bone degradation. The compounds which give eggplants their unique colour are called phenolic compounds. These compounds have not only been linked to stronger bones, but also to increased bone mineral density. Moreover, studies have also concluded that these compounds also play a role in reducing signs of osteoporosis. As mentioned, eggplants also contain iron which also contributes to overall strengths. Eggplants are also a source of calcium and potassium. Calcium is integral to bone health as well as potassium. Potassium actually helps the body to take up calcium. Thus, eggplants can therefore be considered to be a great food for people who are at risk of osteoporosis. Also, eggplants are a source of phytonutrients. For many years, these nutrients have been known as boosting cognitive activity as well as general mental health. Besides the fact that they protect the body from free radical activity, they also help to increase the blood flow to the brain. By delivering oxygen to the brain, the neural pathways in the brain are stimulated. Also, the increased blood flow boosts the powers of memory. Thus, one can say that the vegetable can also be referred to as “brain food”. Additionally, like many other vegetables, eggplants are also a great source of fiber. Fiber is considered to be a necessary element in one’s diet. Fiber does not only help to keep the digestive system healthy, but it also ensures regular bowel movements. Another benefit of fiber is that it helps the digestive system in absorbing nutrients. Studies have also suggested that fiber plays a role in reducing heart disease. This is due to the fact that it eliminates “bad” cholesterol from the arteries which could eventually result in heart diseases.

Tips for preparing and cooking eggplant

When you want to cut an eggplant, it is recommended to use a stainless steel knife. This is due to the fact that a carbon steel knife will have a reaction with the phytonutrients in the eggplants. This will eventually cause the vegetable to turn black. Before cutting the eggplant, it is important that you wash the vegetable and cut off the ends. The skin of most eggplants can be eaten. However, there might be people who do not like the taste of the skin of eggplants. In this case, it is also possible to remove the skin of the vegetable. You can either peel off the skin before cooking it, or you can scoop out the flesh once the eggplant has been cooked. If you want to tenderize the flesh of the vegetable, you can sweat the eggplant by adding salt to it. Start by cutting the eggplant in your preferred size and shape. Continue to sprinkle the vegetable with salt and let it rest for about 30 minutes. This process will lead to water being extracted from the vegetable. Also, it will also absorb less oil when the vegetable is cooked. Rinse the eggplant before you want to cook it. There are different ways how you can prepare the eggplant. You can bake, roast or steam it. If you want to bake the eggplant as a whole make sure you pierce it with a fork in order for steam to be able to escape through the small holes.

How to select and store

When buying eggplants in the supermarket, there are a few things you should pay attention to a few things. Make sure that you choose those eggplants which are firm and heavy in size. Also, make sure that the skin of the vegetable is shiny and smooth. The colour of the skin should also be vivid, whether this is purple, green or white. The eggplant should also be free from any bruises or scars. The stem and the cap which are to be found on either ends of the vegetable should have a bright green colour. While eggplants look like hard vegetables, they are actually very perishable and they should be treated with care when storing them. The vegetable is sensitive to cold as well as hot temperatures. It is not recommended to cut the vegetable before storing it since it perishes quickly. When storing eggplants, place them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. In the refrigerator, they will keep for a couple of days. Many supermarkets sell eggplants wrapped in plastic film. Remove the plastic wrap after you have purchased the vegetable so it can breathe. If the wrap is left on for too long it can degrade its freshness.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1493x
Added: 01-02-2017 19:23
Last modified: 13-04-2017 09:55

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