Eggplants & Cancer Prevention

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We’ve published our share of organic eggplant recipes over the years, including these five favorites:

  1. Eggplant Hummus
  2. Baba Ghanouj
  3. Eggplant Parmesan Soup
  4. Kootu Curry
  5. Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

Other posts have focused on eggplant cookbooks, posters and merchandise, as well as storage, basic nutrition info and what to look for when shopping for an organic eggplant.

Now, let’s add some science to our repertoire.

“Although you won’t find much vitamin C, A or folate in eggplant, it provides a good source of fiber, as well as disease-fighting phytochemicals,” says registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. “In fact, an eggplant’s purple hue is the result of antioxidant anthocyanins—compounds that some researchers believe may play a role in preventing cancer.

“Additional antioxidant activity is evident once you slice an eggplant,” she continues. “The browning of the vegetable’s inner pulp shortly after you cut into it results from the reaction of eggplant’s phenolic compounds with oxygen. These powerful antioxidants act as scavengers and rid our bodies of the highly reactive free radicals that can damage our cells and promote cancer development and heart disease.

“Unfortunately, higher levels of these protective phytochemicals can make foods taste bitter,” she notes, “so researchers are developing new eggplant varieties which offer the best balance of protective phenols and good taste.”

Collins recommends low-fat preparations of this popular vegetable, which Thomas Jefferson first introduced to America.

“Grill, roast or broil it, rather than eating it breaded, fried or smothered in high-fat cheese,” she advises.

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