Ingredient Spotlight: Aubergines

Aubergines or eggplants (as they are known in some countries because of their egg-like shape) come in several sizes and colours. The most well known is the purple variety but aubergines can also be white, green, black and yellow.

It is thought that aubergines originated in China in the 5th century, so they have been around for a long time. 


The most common purple aubergine has a white flesh, which turns to a grayish colour when cooked. Although it is used as a vegetable, it is actually a fruit. The aubergine is very versatile as it can be used in a number of ways including baking, grilling, stuffing and sautéing. It’s used in many recipes around the world: in Italy it can be served as Aubergine Parmigiano, in Turkey as Imam Bayildi, Baingan Bharta in India, Ratatouille in France, served in tempura batter in Japan, roasted in the Middle East and served as Baba Ghanoush, and popular in Moussaka which is served in many countries.


Aubergines are a good source of calcium, folic acid, potassium and beta-carotene and are low in sodium. They are high in soluble fibre so can be helpful for lowering cholesterol because they will help bind cholesterol in the gut and pull it out of the body. Because of the bright purple colour, aubergines contain good levels of bioflavonoids and an antioxidant called monoterpene, which is thought to be helpful in preventing cancer and heart disease. The National Cancer Institute has taken an interest in aubergines and others of the nightshade family to see if they can help prevent tumour growth.


The possible negative side of aubergines is that (like potatoes, peppers and tomatoes) they belong to the nightshade family, which also includes tobacco. It is normally recommended that people with arthritis avoid the nightshade family to see whether symptoms improve if these foods are eliminated. 





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