Eggplants' bitter flavor and spongy texture taste best when grilled or broiled, and they can be added to sauces or roast vegetable mixtures such as caponata. This fiber-rich vegetable provides a number of vitamins and minerals along with disease-fighting antioxidants, making it a healthy addition to any diet.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a minimum of 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day for most adults. One cup of diced eggplant counts toward this recommendation. In this cup, you get 9 g of carbohydrates, the body's primary source of fuel. It also provides 2 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C and 1 percent of vitamin A, calcium and iron, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Eggplant contains 4 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting. It also provides 6 percent of the RDA for manganese, which acts as an antioxidant to help with wound healing and bone health.
Eggplants provide 2 g of fiber per cup. The Institute of Medicine recommends most adult women consume 25 g of fiber daily and men 38 g. Fiber helps with digestion and colon health.
Eggplant is low in calories, with just 35 per cup. It contains no fat and its high fiber content can help you feel full. Using eggplant in lieu of higher-calorie pastas or rice in casseroles or side dishes can help you eat fewer calories while still enjoying satisfying portions.
Along with manganese, eggplant skin contains the antioxidant nasunin. A study in the journal "Toxicology" published in August 2000 found that nasunin from eggplants helped prevent cellular damage in the brains of rats. Eggplants also are high in a chlorogenic acid, a powerful antioxidant offering antimicrobial and antiviral activities along with the ability to help lower bad cholesterol levels.
Sauteed and fried eggplant tend to have a significantly higher number of calories than grilled, roasted or boiled varieties. Eggplant acts like a sponge and soaks up the oil. Beware of one of the most popular eggplant dishes, eggplant Parmesan, in which the vegetable is breaded and often fried and then doused in sauce and cheese. A serving of eggplant Parmesan at restaurants can contain 850 calories or more, and 35 g of fat.