This summer vegetable, a jewel of Mediterranean cuisine, helps control cholesterol and cellular oxidation. It is also light and digestive.
The eggplant plant (Solanum melongena) belongs to the Solanaceae family, such as tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Considered a fruit, which is harvested from June to October, the eggplant comes in many shapes, sizes and colors. Its origin is in the southeast of India, where it has been consumed for more than 4,000 years.
The most valuable properties of eggplant are not due to its richness in vitamins and minerals, but to specific chemical compounds that are mainly found in the skin and seeds. Its ability to reduce "bad" or LDL cholesterol is particularly noteworthy. Fiber intake is a possible cause, but everything indicates that the difference is in alkaloids with a chemical structure similar to statins - drugs that inhibit cholesterol synthesis - but without their side effects.
These substances with a bitter taste stimulate the proper functioning of the liver and the emptying of the gallbladder, thus promoting the digestion of fats. These are effects that are achieved through culinary recipes and through infusions (the eggplant is cut into cubes that are left to boil for a few minutes; then the liquid is drunk throughout the day).
Eggplant contains a dozen very powerful antioxidant phenolic acids and anthocyanins that prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and thus prevent both cardiovascular disorders and degenerative diseases. Nasunin especially protects the membranes of neurons, thus preventing and combating various nervous-type disorders. Its usefulness in the fight against cancer has also been investigated because it inhibits the formation of new blood vessels that feed tumors and combats the undesirable accumulation of iron in the tissues.
On the other hand, natural and popular medicine has found use outside the kitchen to the principles of the eggplant that have been considered toxic. In France and Australia there are preparations based on solasonine and solamargine to treat benign or precancerous skin lesions.
For health, best whole and roasted
In the kitchen, to benefit from all the properties of the eggplant, it is desirable to consume it whole, with the skin and the seeds, since the most active substances are found in these parts.
The healthiest and most digestive way to consume it is roasted in the oven or on the grill and then dressed or worked in vegetable patés.
Fried also like, but it is more indigestible and can multiply your caloric intake. To prevent it from absorbing too much oil, cut the aubergine into slices or into cubes, sprinkle it with salt (it doesn't need to be a lot) and let it rest for about 30 minutes in a colander, so that it releases juice. After that time it is rinsed, to remove the salt, and dried with absorbent paper. By reducing the moisture in the pulp, the pulp becomes denser and consequently soaks up less oil. Likewise, after cooking, it can be placed back on absorbent paper to reduce excess oil.
It is important that after this treatment the aubergine is cooked as soon as possible, to avoid oxidation and acquiring acrid flavors.