Eggplant is called the king of vegetables. Also known as brinjal, aubergine, garden egg, melongene or guinea squash, eggplant is high in dietary fiber, and low in calories.
But there is a mixed opinion on its consumption during pregnancy. Whereas some people say it is safe, some others say it is harmful to pregnant women. In this post, MomJunction tells you if brinjal is safe to eat during pregnancy, its benefits, and side-effects.
Can You Eat Brinjal During Pregnancy?
Brinjal or eggplant is safe to eat during pregnancy but in moderate quantities. It contains fiber, folate, and potassium that are beneficial for fetal development (1). But you should avoid taking it frequently since it is a heat-producing food, triggers allergies and may not be safe if you overeat it (2).
Nutritional Profile Of Eggplant
Eggplant is low in saturated fats and cholesterol. It is a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamin K, thiamin, folate, pyridoxine, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), about 100g of eggplant contains 3g dietary fiber, 229mg potassium, 14mg magnesium, and 24mg phosphorus.
The vitamin composition is around 0.039mg thiamin, 0.084 pyridoxine, 22mcg folate, and 3.5mcg vitamin K (3).
How Eggplant Might Be Beneficial During Pregnancy
Eggplant is nutritious and could provide the following health benefits.
- Prevent birth-defects: Folate is important for the development of the brain and cognitive abilities in the baby. It reduces the risk of neural tube defects and helps in the development of red blood cells (4).
- Regulates gestational diabetes: Eggplant controls the rise in sugar levels and thus keeps your blood sugar levels under control when you have gestational diabetes (5).
- Supports digestion: The dietary fiber in eggplant (6) helps in relieving constipation and improves nutrient absorption (7). It also reduces the risk of hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Protects cells from damage: Eggplant skin contains an anthocyanin known as nasunin. The antioxidant protects the body cells from free radical damage. It also prevents the build-up of excess iron, which is associated with an increased chance of heart disease and cancers (8) (9).
- Reduces bad cholesterol levels: It is believed to reduce the harmful cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels in your blood, thus helping you have a healthy heart (10).
- Controls hypertension: If you are having hypertension during pregnancy, then eggplant can help (11). Bioflavonoids present in the eggplant minimize blood pressure, promote good heart health, and could prevent the risk of health complications during pregnancy (12).
In spite of its benefits, sometimes eggplant may not be the best vegetable to have during pregnancy. Let’s see why.
[ Read: Benefits Of Okra During Pregnancy ]
Reasons To Avoid Brinjal During Pregnancy
Ayurveda practitioners believe that you should avoid eggplant in excess quantities as it could have some side effects. However, there are no research studies to most of the below claims.
- Eggplant contains phytohormones that have menstruation-stimulating properties. Eating brinjal in excess amounts is believed to induce labor.
- In areas where eggplants are cultivated, the soil contains toxoplasmosis that could pass to the pregnant woman and her baby through the vegetable. Toxoplasmosis could increase the risk of premature delivery.
- It may also trigger allergic reactions such as itchiness on the lips, arms, and legs, diarrhea, hives, stomach pain, and cough.
- Raw or undercooked brinjal may cause digestive issues and allergies (13).
Brinjals are better and tastier when cooked and eaten fresh. There are a few more things to consider while picking the veggie.
Things To Consider While Choosing Eggplant
Choose fresh eggplants as stale ones may ruin your meal.
- Take the small eggplant as they are tastier and fresh. Mature ones turn bitter.
- The skin should be smooth and shiny.
- Avoid the ones that have cuts, blemishes, shriveling, wrinkles or uneven color.
- When you press the vegetable, if it forms depression, it means the eggplant is not fresh.
- The stem should be bright green and firm.
- Wash them thoroughly before you cook to avoid bacteria or parasites that may reside on the surface.
- Cook the vegetable thoroughly as undercooked brinjal could lead to digestive problems.
Eggplant is one vegetable that can be cooked in multiple ways.
Ways To Include Eggplant In Your Pregnancy Diet
When eggplant is cooked properly, it could be really palatable. You can add it to your diet in many ways.
- Stuff the brinjal with your favorite puree to make a curry, and eat with rice.
- Stir fry along with other vegetables.
- Cook as a filling for a sandwich.
- Roast, peel, and serve over pasta or bread.
- Bake and serve with other vegetables.
- Make pickle or add to soups.
[ Read: Eating Cabbage During Pregnancy ]
Fresh and tender brinjals are mouth-wateringly tasty and can be cooked in several ways. Medical experts do not suggest you avoid the vegetable during pregnancy, but it is good to eat it in moderate amounts to prevent any adverse effects.
Do you like eating eggplant? Leave your opinion in the comments section below.
2. Sreetama Chakrabarti and Abhik Chakrabarti; Food taboos in pregnancy and early lactation among women living in a rural area of West Bengal; J Family Med Prim Care (2019)
3. Eggplant, raw; Basic Report; USDA
4. Folate; The National Acadamies Press
5. National guidelines for diagnosis & management of gestational diabetes mellitus; Maternal Health Division | Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (2014)
6. Eggplant; The Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia
7. Elyse Cloeter; 4 ways fiber benefits your health; The University of Michigan School of Public Health (2017)
8. Noda Y et al.; Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant; Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol (1998)
9. Planting eggplant and growing tips; University of Montevallo
10. Jorge PA et al.; Effect of eggplant on plasma lipid levels, lipidic peroxidation and reversion of endothelial dysfunction in experimental hypercholesterolemia; Arq Bras Cardiol (1998)
11. Beating high blood pressure with food; Harvard Health Publishing
12. Excellent reasons to eat eggplant; North Carolina Cooperative Extension
13. Bheemanapalli N Harish Babu and Yeldur P Venkatesh; Clinico-immunological analysis of eggplant (solanum melongena) allergy indicates preponderance of allergens in the peel; World Allergy Organ J (2009)
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