Baingan ka bharta. Our sole enemy when we were kids. But experts say brinjal, out of which the bharta is made, is a rich source of nutrients and fibre.
A part of many cuisines around the world, brinjal is more popularly known as eggplant, or aubergine outside of India.
According to Guru Prasad Das, senior dietitian, CARE Hospitals, Bhubaneswar, brinjal is rich in antioxidants and fibre, which are good for your digestive health. “It even helps in weight management.”
Let’s understand the nutritional profile and health benefits of this purple-hued vegetable.
The nutritional profile of brinjal
According to Das, a 100-gram serving of brinjal contains the following nutrients.
– Calories: 24
– Total Fat: 0.3 grams
– Sodium: 3.0 milligrams
– Total Carbohydrates: 4.0 grams
– Dietary Fiber: 1.3 grams
– Sugars: 3.5 grams
– Protein: 1.4 gram
– Vitamin C: 12 milligrams
– Vitamin K: 3.5 micrograms
– Folate: 34 micrograms
– Magnesium: 15 milligrams
– Potassium: 200 milligrams
Health benefits of brinjal
Das expounds on the many health benefits of brinjal, which are as follows.
Antioxidants: Brinjal contains antioxidants, including nasunin, which may protect against cell damage and inflammation.
Heart health: The fibre, potassium, and antioxidants in brinjal can support heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Weight management: It is low in calories and high in fibre, making it a filling food that may aid in weight management.
Digestive health: The fibre content promotes healthy digestion and can alleviate constipation.
Can diabetics consume brinjal?
Brinjal is a low-calorie vegetable, which contains fibre and a variety of nutrients, according to Das.
He explained that it has a low glycemic index, which means it has minimal impact on blood sugar levels.
However, Das suggested that it is important to consider the cooking method and ingredients used with brinjal. “Frying or cooking it in oil can significantly increase the calorie and fat content, which may affect blood sugar control. It’s best to opt for healthier cooking methods like grilling, baking, or steaming brinjal.”
Is it safe for pregnant women?
Brinjal can be beneficial for pregnant women as it is a source of essential nutrients, according to Das.
It provides dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals such as folate, potassium, and manganese, he said. “Folate is particularly important for fetal development, while potassium is essential for maintaining fluid balance and supporting healthy blood pressure levels.”
However, Das advised pregnant women to ensure that the brinjal is cooked thoroughly to minimise the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Things to keep in mind while eating brinjal
Here are some things you should keep in mind, according to Das, when it comes to eating brinjal.
a. Allergies: If you have known allergies to brinjal, it’s best to avoid consuming brinjal or consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.
b. Sugar content: Brinjal itself is low in sugar, making it suitable for people with diabetes or those watching their sugar intake. However, be mindful of the cooking methods and ingredients used alongside brinjal, such as sauces or sweeteners, as they can affect the overall sugar content of the dish.
c. Overconsumption: While brinjal is generally a healthy vegetable, overconsumption may lead to certain effects. Brinjal contains a substance called solanine, which in excessive amounts can be toxic. However, the levels of solanine in brinjal are generally considered safe for consumption when cooked properly. It’s important to consume brinjal as part of a varied diet and avoid eating it in large quantities.
Myths and facts about brinjal
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A popular myth surrounding brinjal consumption, Das said, is that it leads to increased cholesterol levels. When, in fact, brinjal itself is low in cholesterol and saturated fat. However, it tends to absorb oil during cooking, so if excessive oil is used in preparation, it can increase the overall fat content of the dish, he explained.
“Moderation and healthier cooking methods can help enjoy the benefits of brinjal without negative effects on cholesterol,” he added.
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