Welcome back to Eating in Color! As I mentioned in Eating in Color: Blue, truly blue fruits and vegetables are pretty darn rare. Occasionally you can get your hands on a blue potato or something, but for the sake of accessibility, we're going to stay a little more mainstream and put a deep purple vegetable in the spotlight instead: eggplant.
Did you know that an eggplant is technically a berry? How crazy is that? It's also loaded with vitamin B6, copper, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and thiamine, along with antioxidants like lutein and nasunin.
These nutrients are great for your eyes, immune system, brain, heart, and general health. The study, Health Benefits and Bioactive Compounds of Eggplant, maintains, "Eggplant [...] can provide significant nutritive benefits thanks to its abundance of vitamins, phenolics and antioxidants." And that's just the beginning! According to the study, Cardioprotective Properties of Raw and Cooked Eggplant, "Eggplants [contain] potent cardioprotective compounds judging by their ability to increase left ventricular function, and reduce myocardial infarct size and cardiomyocyte apoptosis." There's lots more to explore about the health impact of eggplant, but for now let's move on to using these delicious vegetables-that-are-actually-berries.
There are lots of varieties of eggplant. The one that many people are most familiar with is Italian eggplant, which is large and in the traditional oblong "egg" shape. Fairytale and Indian eggplant varieties are smaller, while Japanese and Chinese eggplants look more like long, purple zucchini. There are also eggplant varieties with different colors and patterns, and all are fantastically delicious.
We see the most variety in eggplant types at farmers' markets and farmstands in the summer, but you can also get eggplants at the grocery store. Look for ones that are heavy for their size and firm, with no wrinkles, soft spots, or cuts. They generally last for 5 days or so if you store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
- Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Salad
- Pasta alla Norma
- Grilled Sicilian Eggplant Rolls
- Eggplant Lasagna
And, not to sound too much like a broken record over here, there just aren't a lot of blue vegetables. So I'm not going to post a list of other ones today. Instead, I'll do extra-long lists of purple fruits and vegetables next week, and you can pick amongst them.
In the interim, there are lots of great teaching and education materials in the Nutrition Education Store!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.