So you’ve recently started the paleo diet. It’s already been a few days or weeks, and now you’re starting to get bored of all the most popular recipes. You see fresh eggplants in the store, and you’re wondering: Can you eat eggplant on paleo?
Contrary to popular belief, eggplant is actually a fruit. This versatile fruit is filled with nutrients and numerous vitamins, just like most fruit. The reasoning behind the dilemma is whether fruit or veggie comes from the low sugar content in eggplant.
Eggplant comes from the plant family Solanaceae, commonly referred to as Nightshades. It’s a relative to tomatoes, but botanically, eggplant is classified as a berry. Similarly to tomato, this purple-skinned fruit grows hanging from the vines of a plant.
In regular diets, eggplants are widely used in cooking. But, as you’ve already experienced, paleo is a rigorous diet. Who can catch up with all those restrictions? That’s why we’re here. In this article, you’re going to learn all about eggplants in paleo diets. Can you eat eggplant on paleo, and if you can, how much is too much? Read along to find out more!
Can You Eat Eggplant On Paleo?
The good news is: You can eat eggplants on paleo. However, you need to be very careful. That’s because nightshade plants contain a compound named alkaloid. Alkaloid acts as a natural pesticide, which in high quantities can’t be good for us. Some nightshades, including eggplant, contain traces of nicotine – and you know that’s certainly not paleo-friendly.
However, eggplant contains a minimal amount of alkaloids. The traces of nicotine are also too small to even consider it as dangerous. It’s also cardinal to know that not all alkaloids are harmful. Some of them even provide health benefits, like cancer prevention.
Before we dig deeper into health benefits and potential health risks, let’s go through eggplant nutritional value.
Eggplants contain a fair amount of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Plus, they are deficient in calories!
One cup of raw eggplant, which is around 80 grams, contains:
|Manganese||10% of the RDI|
|Folate||5% of the RDI|
|Potassium||5% of the RDI|
|Vitamin K||4% of the RDI|
|Vitamin C||3% of the RDI|
Health Benefits Of Eggplant
Filled With Antioxidants
As mentioned above, eggplants are rich in nutrients. Next to having numerous vitamins and minerals, eggplants contain a high number of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from damage that substances called free radicals cause.
Studies show that antioxidants may prevent some chronic diseases, like cancer or heart disease. Eggplants are filled with anthocyanins, which are responsible for eggplants’ rich purple color. Anthocyanin called nasunin is found in eggplants, and it is very beneficial for our health.
Regulating Blood Sugar
Eggplant is also beneficial for keeping your blood sugar levels in check. Because eggplants are high in fiber, they can lower blood sugar. Eggplants are great for controlling diabetes and fit right with the recommended diets for people with diabetes.
Because eggplants are high in fiber, low in sugar and calories, they make a great addition to every weight loss regime. Fiber makes you feel fuller, which can reduce frequent visits to the fridge.
Eggplants Are Still Nightshades
Nightshades are a common name for plants that belong to the Solanaceae family. Besides Eggplants, there are numerous other nightshades, like tomato or potatoes. And there are even some notorious ones that are non-edible. The non-edible nightshades include tobacco, petunias, jimson weed, and deadly nightshade.
Why is this important? Well, all nightshades have alkaloids. Even the food nightshades, but at minimal levels. Although you can eat them, you need to be moderate in consumption. If you feel any ill effects after consuming eggplants, remove them from your diet immediately.
An Important Note: You can reduce the alkaloid levels in eggplant and other nightshade foods by steaming, boiling, or baking them. When you cook nightshade foods, you can reduce the alkaloid levels even by half!
Some people are much more sensitive to nightshade foods than others. People who are sensitive to nightshade foods might have a few symptoms:
- Stomach discomfort
- Digestive difficulties
- Joint pain
- Muscle tremors
If you notice any of those symptoms, do one’s best by avoiding all nightshade foods for a while. If the symptoms stop, you are probably sensitive to nightshade foods and should avoid them.
People with autoimmune disease should also avoid eggplant consumption. If, by any chance, have all of the above symptoms, joined with rashes, reddening of the skin, or any type of inflammatory reaction, it’s best to skip on the eggplants.
If you consumed eggplants before and didn’t have any noticeable reaction – you can use eggplants in your paleo diet.
Eggplant Paleo-Friendly Recipes
Now that we know whether we can consume eggplants in our paleo diets – it’s recipe time!
Here we’re going to give you a few ideas of how to incorporate eggplants into your diet.
Because eggplants are very versatile, we can use them in numerous ways in our paleo diets.
Since you’re aiming for a ratio of equal parts of meat and vegetables (or fruits, in this case), you need to know how to prepare them properly. Eggplants are relatively easy to work with, and you can even make a few mistakes then and now – they’re still going to taste good!
Roasted Eggplant With Garlic And Chilli
Because eggplants are mostly water, just like other watery-foods, they don’t have much taste by themselves. That’s why they readily absorb every taste next to them! This is why garlic and chili are great when paired up with eggplants.
For starters, preheat the oven to 400F. Slice a few eggplants in half. Salt them generously, and leave on the side for an hour. When the eggplants have released the water, wash off the salt, and pat them dry. Place them on a baking tray and cover generously with garlic and chilly – by taste. Grill them in the oven until the eggplants are tenderized and rich in color. Drizzle some lemon on top and enjoy!
This one is very similar to vegetarian lasagna. Instead of replacing the meat, eggplants replace the noodles. Plus, because it’s still a paleo meal, there’s no annoying and time-consuming cheese grating!
Slice your eggplants, salt them, and leave them to get rid of excess water for an hour. Wash the salt off lightly and pat them dry. On your tray, align the dried up eggplants, top the eggplants generously with meat. Do that as much as you need, and put the tray in a 400F preheated oven. Enjoy your healthy lasagna!
A traditional Turkish recipe inspires this one. Slice in half two eggplants. Fill a large bowl with salted water and put the sliced eggplants in. This step helps with the bitterness in eggplants.
In the meanwhile, saute minced beef (or whatever meat you want) with onions until the pink in the meat is gone. Stir frequently, then add more onions by taste until they soften up. When the meat is done, remove the eggplants from the salted water. Scoop out the seed part from all the eggplants, and put the cooked meat inside.
Put the stuffed eggplants in a 400F preheated oven and bake until they are soft and delicious-looking. Rest 5 minutes before serving and eat up!
Can You Eat Eggplant On Paleo – Final Words
There you have it! Now you know a lot about eggplants and how to incorporate them into your paleo diet. Considering all the health benefits that eggplants bring, no wonder they’re a great addition to many paleo dishes.
On the other hand, be careful and moderate; eggplants are still nightshades. If you notice any unpleasant symptoms after eggplant consumptions, maybe it’s best to avoid the purple fruit. Feel free to use the recipes mentioned above and enjoy eggplant consumption! Stay healthy and fit.