Fresh eggplant brings a wonderful color to the dinner table and can help with summer complaints as well as a wide range of illnesses - it can even help battle the ravages of aging.
The purple vegetable is one of the healthiest foods on the market today. It comes from the tropical areas of Southeast Asia and has been eaten in China for more than 1,000 years.
It is grown widely throughout the country and is usually found in the market in summer and autumn. There are various colors of eggplants including purple, yellow, white and green and different shapes - round, oval, and long and straight.
The yin ("cold") characteristics of eggplant in traditional Chinese medicine make it a popular vegetable in summer as it can help dispel pathogenic heat and toxins. It is especially recommended for those suffering from heat-rash or skin ulcer problems in summer.
But for those who have poor digestive systems with a tendency to diarrhea, it is better not to eat too much of the vegetable, as eggplant might be too "cold" for them.
Eggplant can remove blood stagnation, relieve edema and move the bowels as recorded in "Dian Nan Ben Cao" ("The Southwest China Materia Medica"), a medicinal classic written by herbalist Lan Mao in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
It can help relieve constipation, bleeding hemorrhoids and jaundice due to gathered pathogenic heat and dampness inside. External application of mashed eggplant can help relieve the pain caused by bee stings and ulcers.
Burnt eggplant powder with stems is widely used in TCM.
Eating eggplant powder with rice water can help relieve hemorrhoids as recorded in "Dian Nan Ben Cao." Mixing the powder with borneol powder and spreading it on ulcers can help accelerate healing. ?
Eggplants are rich in nutrition. Apart from protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and micro-elements, eggplants are especially high in vitamin P. There's about 750mg of vitamin P in every 100g of eggplant.
Vitamin P helps keep blood vessels elastic and strong. This makes eggplants a popular dietary therapy for high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, hardening of arteries and purpura haemorrhagica.
Modern research shows that eating eggplant regularly can have anti-aging effect, help decrease cholesterol, and prevent rectal and stomach cancer.
Eggplant can be turned into a number of delicious dishes whether fried, steamed, boiled or just made into soup or cold dishes with dressing. Fried eggplant with soy sauce is very popular but nutritional value can be destroyed when the vegetables are deep fried. Since eggplants absorb oil easily, fried eggplants can become a high-calorie food rather than a healthy one.
To prevent eggplants absorbing too much oil, it is recommended that you steam or stir fry them a little in advance without oil. And do not discard the eggplant skin as most of the nutritional value, including vitamin P, lies there.
Eggplants can be found in the markets even in late autumn, but they usually don't taste as good as those found in the summer. Autumn eggplants generally taste more bitter, have more seeds and less pulp. Eggplants can be even "colder" after Li Qiu (The Beginning of Autumn) which usually falls on August 7 or 8.
Though eggplants are recommended for most people in summer, those with poor digestive systems or suffering from asthma should be warned not to eat too many.
Patients who are about to undergo surgery within a week should avoid eggplants and they can prevent narcotics from breaking down properly. It may take a patient longer to regain consciousness after an operation and slow the rate of recovery. Fried eggplant
Ingredients: eggplant (250g) and salt
Method: 1. Chop the eggplants into small pieces and put them in hot oil.
2. Sir fry until done and add salt.
Function: Helps dispel pathogenic heat and toxins.
Ingredients: eggplant (250g), vinegar, sugar, salt and sesame oil
Method: 1. Chop the eggplants into relatively large pieces and put in a bowl.
2. Steam the bowl over boiling water and remove the eggplants when done.
3. Add the seasonings and stir.
Function: Helps dispel pathogenic heat, relieves edema and pain. It is recommended for patients with hemorrhoids or ulcers.
Eggplant and dried shrimp soup
Ingredients: eggplant (500g), dried shrimps (50g), green onion, salt and sesame oil.
Method: 1. Chop the eggplants into small pieces and fry a little.
2. Put the eggplants and dried shrimp in a saucepan to make soup.
3. Season when it is done.
Function: Helps dispel pathogenic heat and dampness and improves appetite.
(Shanghai Daily June 30, 2009)