The eggplant is a gorgeous vegetable on the outside. It’s shiny skin, often purple, sometimes white or green, beckons at the market. Eggplants come large, bulging with stored up water, and are a treat to display in the fruit basket, next to all the citrus and mangoes.
Eggplant’s smaller and more bitter sister, “African eggplant,” “garden egg” or “bitterball” are equally popular throughout West Africa and covered here.
Like other nightshade vegetables including tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, cayenne and chili peppers, eggplant grows easily around much of Africa and is a favorite in home gardens. The plant loves sun and doesn’t mind less than perfect soil. Eggplants grow much like tomatoes, and like to have a structure to climb up.
Nutritionally, eggplants are an excellent vegetable to include in your diet. The vegetable, including its skin, contains phytonutrients that play an important role in protecting cell membranes from free radical damage. Just one of egpplant’s many antioxidants has been linked to healthy cell cycles and to helping neutralize microbes, viruses and bad cholesterol (LDL). In some studies, eggplant has been linked to better cardiovascular health as well. As if that wasn’t enough, eggplant is full of fiber, which helps you feel full and nourished after a meal.
We hope you’re starting to be convicted of the benefits of eating this gorgeous but rather strange African vegetable. The real question is, how are you going to eat it?