Eggplant is a mild-tasting type of vegetable that takes on the flavor components of other ingredients in your recipe. It is a hidden source of fiber, vitamins and minerals but is relatively low in calories, providing 35 calories per 1-cup cooked portion. Eggplant blends perfectly with many soups, makes a delicious addition to pastas or packs additional nutrients to a grilled vegetable kebab.
Eggplants are loaded with fiber, providing about 2.5 grams per 1-cup cooked serving. You need 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories, equaling 28 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. One cup of cooked eggplant has almost 10 percent of the total recommendation for a 2,000-calorie diet. You'll get both soluble and insoluble fiber from eggplant. Soluble fiber allows digestion to occur slowly so that nutrients can fully absorb without being excreted. Leaving the skin on eggplants provides even more insoluble fiber, the type of fiber that speeds digestion and relieves constipation.
Eggplants add a small amount of potassium to your diet. You may be familiar with potassium for its role in balancing fluid and conducting electricity. Potassium is an electrolyte and works side-by-side with other electrolytes, like magnesium, sodium and calcium. These electrolyte minerals go in and out of cells, stabilizing fluid levels. Throughout this process, electrolytes conduct electricity through cells and tissues. Normal heart rhythm and muscle movements rely on electrolyte functions. You need 4,700 milligrams of daily potassium, says the Linus Pauling Institute. One cup of cooked eggplant offers more than 120 milligrams. Nearly all fruits and vegetables are loaded with potassium, so pairing eggplant with potatoes, spinach or even a glass of orange juice increases your potassium intake even more.
Manganese is a trace mineral that you need in tiny amounts each day, but it is important for basic bodily functions. This powerful mineral acts like an antioxidant and protects cells from oxidative stress. Antioxidants, like manganese, rid your system of excessive free radicals that damage cells and increase your risk of chronic disease. Manganese also activates several enzymes that regulate your metabolism. Women need 1.8 milligrams of daily manganese, while men require 2.3 milligrams, the Linus Pauling Institute reports. One cup of cooked eggplant offers about .12 milligram, or about 5 percent of your daily requirement.
Very few foods have naturally occurring folate; however, eggplant has a small amount. Usually you get this B vitamin from fortified foods in the form of folic acid. Folate is vital for cell division as well as producing and maintaining cells. During reproductive years, women must meet the daily recommendation of folate to prevent neural tube defects in growing fetuses. These defects occur during the first few weeks of pregnancy, usually before you find out you are pregnant. Eggplant adds almost 15 micrograms of folate to your diet. This is about 4 percent of the 400-microgram daily recommendation, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Eggplant, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute: Potassium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.