Brinjal, also called eggplant or aubergine, is a popular vegetable in Indian cuisine. It has a distinctive texture and versatile flavour. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in eggplant’s potential health benefits, particularly for people with diabetes. Some studies have suggested that the consumption of brinjal may have positive effects on people with diabetes, as it can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
This article will explore the impact of brinjal consumption on diabetes and the potential benefits of adding this vegetable to a diabetes-friendly diet.
Nutritional Values of Brinjal
With its low-calorie and high-fibre content, brinjal is an excellent choice for individuals seeking to control their weight and manage blood sugar. Additionally, its high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as vitamin C, potassium, and folate, make it nutritious. Moreover, brinjal contains nasunin, an anthocyanin pigment with potent antioxidant abilities.
According to the USDA, nutritional values of one hundred grams of cooked, boiled and drained eggplant prepared without salt are as follows.
- Energy: 35kCal
- Carbohydrates: 8.73g
- Fibre: 2.5g
- Protein: 0.83g
- Calcium: 6mg
- Potassium: 123mg
- Phosphorus: 15mg
- Vitamin A: 37IU
- Vitamin C: 1.3mg
- Vitamin K: 2.9µg
- Vitamin B6: 0.086mg
- Folate: 14µg
The nutritional value of eggplant can be affected by various factors, including the preparation method and the oil used. For instance, frying or sautéing eggplant in oil increases its calorie and fat content compared to steaming or roasting. Additionally, the type of oil used during cooking can also have an impact – for example, olive oil is a healthier option than oil with a high saturated fat content. Finally, the variety of eggplant can also play a role, as different types may contain different levels of nutrients. Some may have a higher fibre content and others a higher antioxidant content.
The HealthifyMe Note
Rich in vitamins and minerals, brinjal is a nutrient-dense vegetable. Its high fibre benefits digestive health, weight management, and blood sugar control. Additionally, brinjal is a good source of vitamins C, K, and B6 and potassium, manganese, and folate. As a result, it can benefit overall health.
Glycemic Index of Brinjal
A food’s glycemic index (GI) tells you how quickly it will raise your blood sugar. Foods with a high GI break down more rapidly and can cause a considerable, sudden rise in your blood sugar. On the other hand, foods with a low GI digest more slowly, resulting in a slower, more minor increase in your blood sugar.
The Glycemic Index Database states that eggplant has an approximate glycemic index of 20, which is considered low. That makes it an ideal food for people with diabetes or anyone trying to keep their blood sugar in check, as it will not cause a sudden spike in their blood sugar levels.
Exploring the Relationship between Eggplant and Diabetes
Diabetes is a long-term condition characterised by too much sugar in the blood. It is divided into two main categories: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas responsible for producing insulin. Type 2 diabetes results from resistance to insulin, meaning the body’s cells are not responding correctly to the hormone, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
Obesity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and diets high in calories and low in nutrients can increase the risk of developing the condition. However, eating more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables lead to a reduced risk. Brinjal is an excellent choice as it is low in calories yet packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Eggplant is an excellent source of antioxidants, which are molecules that help protect the body from free radicals. These free radicals are molecules that can damage cells and cause chronic illnesses like diabetes. In addition, eggplant skin contains Nasunin, a flavonoid known to have anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, it can protect the body from the destruction caused by free radicals.
There has not been extensive research on the direct effects of brinjal consumption on blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. However, studies have suggested that consuming foods high in fibre and low in calories, such as brinjal, may improve blood sugar control. For example, research shows that a diet rich in fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, including brinjal, was linked to a decreased risk of developing diabetes.
The Benefits of Brinjal for Diabetes Control
Brinjal may have benefits for people with diabetes that extend beyond its potential impact on blood sugar levels.
Research has indicated that brinjal powder may be beneficial for people with diabetes, as it may help lower blood pressure. As a result, it can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, brinjal’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help protect against cellular damage and inflammation.
Eggplant is rich in phytonutrients, beneficial compounds found in plants that positively affect health. Research shows that phytonutrients can also reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar levels.
One phytonutrient in brinjal is chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol with anti-inflammatory effects. It can help reduce blood sugar levels. Another phytonutrient in eggplant is solavetivone. It is an antibacterial substance that could prevent the growth of hazardous bacteria in the gut.
Good Source of Fibre
Eggplant is an excellent source of fibre, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. That is because fibre slows down the absorption of sugar by the blood, thus reducing blood sugar levels. In addition, fibre also aids weight loss, which can help prevent obesity.
Potassium and Magnesium
Eggplant is a nutritious vegetable rich in two important minerals, potassium and magnesium. Potassium is essential for maintaining good heart health as it can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease in those with diabetes.
Magnesium is also vital for blood sugar control. It helps the body use insulin more efficiently and may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Additionally, magnesium may reduce the risk of heart disease in those with diabetes.
Ways to Use Brinjal in a Diabetes-Friendly Diet
There are many delicious options if you look for diabetes-friendly ways to incorporate brinjal into your diet. Popular Indian dishes that include brinjal are:
- Baingan Bharta (roasted and mashed brinjal mixed with spices and tomatoes)
- Bharva Baingan (stuffed brinjal with a mixture of spices and vegetables)
- Baingan ka Raita (a yoghurt-based dip made with mashed brinjal, yoghurt, and spices)
- Baingan ki Subzi (sautéed brinjal with spices and vegetables)
When including brinjal in a diabetes-friendly diet, portion size is essential. Consuming about ½ cup of cooked brinjal per serving is recommended. Be sure to pair brinjal with other nutrient-dense foods to make it a balanced meal. To get a customised plan to incorporate brinjals and other nutritious foods to manage diabetes, you can talk to a HealthifyMe nutritionist.
The potential benefits of brinjal for people with diabetes may be promising, yet more research is required to understand its impact on blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, studies have indicated that consuming brinjal can help improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications that are associated with diabetes.
Many Indian dishes feature brinjals, such as Baingan Bharta, Bharva Baingan, Baingan ka Raita, and Baingan ki Subzi. Consuming these foods and being mindful of portion sizes with other nutritious meals can benefit diabetes management.
The Research Sources
1. The U S Department of Agriculture
2. Glycemic Index Guide
3. Wang PY, Fang JC, Gao ZH, Zhang C, Xie SY. Higher intake of fruits, vegetables or fibre reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis. J Diabetes Investig. 2016 Jan;7(1):56-69. doi: 10.1111/jdi.12376. Epub 2015 Jun 22. PMID: 26816602; PMCID: PMC4718092.
4. Nishimura M, Suzuki M, Takahashi R, Yamaguchi S, Tsubaki K, Fujita T, Nishihira J, Nakamura K. Daily Ingestion of Eggplant Powder Improves Blood Pressure and Psychological State in Stressed Individuals: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 16;11(11):2797. doi: 10.3390/nu11112797. PMID: 31744060; PMCID: PMC6893753.
5. Mengjie Kong, Kang Xie, Minghui Lv, Jufei Li, Jianyu Yao, Kaixuan Yan, Xiaoqin Wu, Ying Xu, Dewei Ye, Anti-inflammatory phytochemicals for the treatment of diabetes and its complications: Lessons learned and future promise, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, Volume 133, 2021, 110975, ISSN 0753-3322, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110975.