Garden egg plants are fruits of the nightshade species consumed in different parts of the world. There are so many species and varieties of the garden eggplant or aubergine as it is known in the UK. There are also the sweet and bitter varieties and some are indigenous to Africa. Although the nutrients in the various cultivars of garden egg vary, they are generally low in fat, protein and carbohydrates. They contain an appreciable amount of dietary fibre and the mineral and vitamin content are moderate.
In Nigeria, we usually eat the green (Solanum aethiopicum) and the white species (S. Marcrocarpon). The purple eggplant (Solanum melongena) can also be found in markets in Nigeria. The green variety is said to have more crude fibre than the white variety. The green variety also significantly has more phytochemicals than the white.
The goodness of the garden egg is really in the bioactive compounds. They contain so many phytochemicals that are very beneficial in improving health and preventing diseases. There are quite a number of research works showing garden eggplant to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is on record that it has been used traditionally to treat asthma, skin infection, rheumatic disease and swollen joint pains, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, constipation, dyspepsia and so on.
Some studies have claimed that some species have antiviral, anticancer, anticonvulsant and anti-infective properties because of these super chemicals they contain. A study by Edijala et al in 2005 showed that garden egg plants significantly reduced serum total cholesterol, triglyceride and increased serum HDL-cholesterol because of the soluble fibre they contain.
While the garden egg can be a bit bitter, cooking it improves the palatability. It is important to note that these super compounds are insignificantly affected by boiling. The same goes for the minerals too. However, many other nutrients sensitive to heat would be lost by boiling.
The next time you pass by a fruit seller displaying garden eggs, stop and buy some.
- Auta, R. James, S. A. Auta, T. & Sofa, E. M. 2011. Nutritive Value and Phytochemical Composition of Solanum incanum (Bitter Garden egg). Science world journal Vol 6 (3). ISSN 1597 -6343.
- JK Edijala, SO Asagba, GE Eriyamremu, U Atomatofa. 2005. Comparative effects of garden egg fruit, oat and apple on serum lipid profile in rats fed on a high cholesterol diet. Pak J Nutr, 4 (2005), pp. 245-249
- N. Chinedu, A. C. Olasumbo, O. K. Eboji, O. C. Emiloju, O. K. Arinola and D. I. Dania. 2011. Proximate and Phytochemical Analyses of Solanum aethiopicum L. and Solanum macrocarpon L. Fruits. Research Journal of Chemical Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2011, pp. 63-71.