Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October, Berry of the Month...Eggplant Has Great Health Benefits



Eggplant is low in calories -- just 20 calories per cup, mostly from carbohydrates, a potent source of energy. It comes loaded with vitamins and minerals, but its health benefits extend beyond just adding vital nutrients to a meal. Eggplant contains other compounds that promote good health as well, even to the point of helping to prevent cancer and lowering cholesterol. Once you realize how beneficial eggplant is to your health, you may want to give more consideration to it becoming a regular part of your diet.

Chlorogenic Acid

Chlorogenic acid is a plant compound that is known for its high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants shield your cells from oxidation -- a harmful chemical process that damages your cells and contributes to disease. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service found chlorogenic acid to be the dominant antioxidant compound in eggplant. They report that this is significant because chlorogenic acid has a great capacity to fight free radicals -- the chemicals that cause oxidation -- and is also able to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Chlorogenic acid is also antimutagenic, which means it can protect cells from mutating into cancer cells; and it is also antiviral.

Nasunin

Nasunin is an antioxidant compound found in the peels of eggplant. The August 10, 2005 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" reports that a study shows the nasunin in eggplant has antiangiogenic abilities. The Cancer Center at the Angiogenesis Foundation explains that when something is angiogenic, it stimulates new growth of blood vessels and blood supply. While that sounds like it could be a good thing, when it comes to cancer, it is not. Cancerous cells can gain angiogenesis ability, which means they can develop a means to increase their own blood supply, which can cause a cancerous mass or tumor to grow rather quickly. Nasunin in eggplant has the ability to prevent angiogenesis from occurring. 
Many doctors and scientists believe that a compound in eggplant can effectively treat certain types of skin cancer. The phytochemical, known as BEC5, is believed to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. BEC5 cream is purported to have worked in thousands of cases, mainly in Australia and England with a success rate of nearly 100% when used for 12 weeks. There are conflicting reports as to its effectiveness and the FDA has not approved its use in the U.S. It is not known whether obtaining BEC5 from eating eggplant will help to prevent or treat cancer.
8 Health Benefits of Eggplant

The eggplant, known as aubergine in France and England, is thought of as a vegetable but is actually a berry of the nightshade (Solanaceae) plant. It is native to the Indian Subcontinent. Here are 8 health benefits of eggplant:

Antioxidant Activity

Eggplant contains several phytonutrients with good antioxidant activity: caffeic, chlorogenic acid and the flavonoid, nasunin. Nasunin is a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to fight free radical activity in the body. Animal studies have found that nasunin protects lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Chlorogenic acid is also considered a potent antioxidant with many proven benefits.
Heart Health

Animal studies show that eggplant may help lower overall cholesterol in the body and help to improve blood flow. The antioxidant compounds in eggplant help to prevent oxidative stress to the cardiovascular system and thus reduce the risk of heart attack and heart disease. Eggplant is also a good source of fiber, which is needed to maintain good cardiovascular health.

Brain Health


Eggplant contains nasunin, an antioxidant anthocyanin, which may help to promote healthy brain function. Nasunin protects brain fats through scavenging free radicals that target brain lipids.

Fiber, Vitamins and Minerals

 Eggplant is also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which can help protect against type 2 diabetes and keeps the digestive system regular. One cup of eggplant contains about 8% the DV of dietary fiber. Fiber can aid in digestion and weight loss. It helps to balance the metabolism. The fiber in eggplant helps to reduce cholesterol and relax blood vessels, which suggests it may play a productive role in maintaining good heart health. The vitamins in eggplant consist primarily of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B vitamins, vitamins like B1, B3 and B6. B vitamins play an essential role in the proper function of the central nervous system, energy production, hormone balance and healthy liver function. Eggplant is also loaded with  folate and vitamin C. These vitamins are also believed to help balance blood sugar and reduce cholesterol. Eggplant is also rich in minerals, boasting a large quantity of potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. With no fat, six carbs and 27 calories in a 1-cup serving, eggplant makes an excellent addition to any diet.

Weight Loss

Maintaining the proper DV of fiber and B vitamins can be a great way to contribute to healthy weight loss. Fiber promotes a healthy, active metabolism and B vitamins can help the body to process fat. Eggplant is also rich with nutrients while offering very few calories (only 19 per cup), which makes it a great addition to an active, effective weight loss program.

Bone Health

Eggplant contains many of the minerals needed to maintain strong, healthy bones: manganese, potassium, magnesium and copper.

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