Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Jan 2020

Eggplant

Packed with nutrients, eggplants have beneficial effects on heart health and cancer prevention.

By Laurie Mathena

Eggplants are best known for their deep, glossy purple skin, but they also come in colors ranging from lavender to green to orange, and in sizes ranging from a small tomato to a large zucchini.

Early varieties of eggplants had a predominantly bitter taste, which contributed to their reputation as a cause of insanity and leprosy.

Today’s varieties are much less bitter, and they are now recognized for what they truly are: a nutrient-dense health food that has beneficial effects on heart health and cancer prevention.

Heart Health

In one animal study, feeding eggplant juice to rabbits with high cholesterol for two weeks led to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.1

Another study showed that feeding raw or grilled eggplant to animals for 30 days prior to inducing a heart attack provided important cardioprotective effects. These included increasing left ventricular function, reducing the size of the heart attack (the portion of the heart without oxygen), and reducing the death of heart muscle cells.2

Anti-Cancer Properties

Eggplants contain numerous compounds that have anti-cancer properties.

For example, glycoalkaloids, which help protect plants against various threats, have been shown in cell studies to have anti-cancer properties against gastric cancer,3 leukemia,4 liver cancer,5 lung cancer,6 and osteosarcoma.7

Eggplants contain the phenolic compound, chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to induce apoptosis in human leukemia cells and human lung cancer cells.8 They are also rich in anthocyanins, which have been shown to have numerous anti-cancer actions in gastrointestinal cancer cells.9

One cup (82 grams) of raw eggplant contains only 20 calories and is loaded with fiber. You can enjoy eggplant roasted, sautéed, or baked. It can also be used as a healthy substitute in dishes like lasagna (use eggplant instead of noodles), or in place of sausage in other Italian recipes.

References

  1. Arq Bras Cardiol. 1998 Feb;70(2):87-91.
  2. Food Funct. 2011 Jul;2(7):395-9.
  3. Food Chem. 2013 Nov 15;141(2):1181-6.
  4. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2011 Apr;67(4):813-21.
  5. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Jan 31;139(2):599-604.
  6. FEBS Lett. 2004 Nov 5;577(1-2):67-74.
  7. Chin Med J (Engl). 2011 Jul 5;124(13):2038-44.
  8. Eur J Nutr. 2017 Oct;56(7):2215-44.
  9. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):281-90.

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