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  • Writer's pictureThe Dietitian

Purple Power

No, this post is not an update about the Vikings training camp or a run down of the season ahead (although I do hope it is a powerful one for them!). This post is about the somewhat odd and often misunderstood vegetable called Eggplant.

Eggplant is botanically in the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Eggplant does not contain any particular nutrient more so than others but is nutritious none the less. It is a good source of dietary fiber, numerous B vitamins, antioxidants; folate; magnesium and copper. It’s purple color also indicates it is rich in anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins are phytochemicals which are a part of the flavonoid family. Flavonoids are plant chemicals known for the antioxidant properties, meaning they help to decrease inflammation and boost the immune system in our bodies. They also give vegetables and fruits their bright colors. Studies have shown an increase in anthocyanins may decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease, decrease cholesterol, lower inflammatory chemicals in the body as well as lower markers of oxidative stress in the body.

Other fruits and vegetables that contain the anthocyanins include: Red Onion; Red Cabbage; Purple potatoes; Grapes; Blackberries; Blueberries and Plums. However there are all sorts of wild and hybrid vegetables to be found. You can find purple corn, purple carrots, purple beans and purple cauliflower to name a few. The anthocyanins are found in the purple color. So some purple fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, blackberries and purple potatoes which are purple throughout the plant contain greater amounts of these powerful chemicals. Vegetables such as eggplant only contain the anthocyanins in the skin. So if you skin your eggplant, you really aren’t getting all of the nutritional benefit of the plant. Flavonoids, such as anthocyanin, are water soluble. This means boiling your purple vegetables in water will result in some losses of the chemicals. However you can use the purple died water to make a stock or in other cooking to make use of some of that nutrition loss.

Eggplant is often found in a dish made popular by the Disney movie Ratatouille. I am pulling references from Disney again, which we watch a lot of Disney in our household. Though there are other great ways to cook with eggplant. You can use it in stir fry, throw it into pastas or lightly bread them and pan fry.

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