Despite the many health benefits of the garden egg, I still prefer to prescribe the leaves to my clients, as I find the leaves safer and more effective.
Fr. Anselm Adodo
The garden egg, also known as eggplant aubergine, guinea squash, melongene and brinjal, usually has an egg-like shape and a vibrant purple colour.
While there are many varieties of the African eggplant, with a range of shapes, sizes and colours, the eggplant most commonly found across Africa is Solanum aethiopicum. This variety has a brilliant red exterior and is about the size and shape of an egg, giving it the name, garden egg. It is also known as mock tomato or ‘fake tomato.’
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Though technically a fruit, it is usually picked when it is green and is eaten as a vegetable; cooked into stews and sauces or even consumed raw. Many people don’t even associate the garden egg with the red colour because most times it is harvested and eaten when it is still green. If picked after it is ripe, it can be enjoyed as a fruit, though some varieties are sourer than others. Most garden eggs sold in markets in Nigeria come from locally grown, small plots of land. In fact, 80 percent of total production comes from small-scale growers. Women especially use them as an additional source of income.
Garden egg is a very good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, copper and thiamin (Vitamin B1). It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and niacin. Eggplant also contains phytonutrients, such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid. It also contains nutrients that include better carotene, Vitamins B6 E and foliate, calcium, iron, magnesium fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals. They come in two shades, the cream and green colour.
There are so many health benefits of garden eggs that make them exceptional for our body. For those battling with excessive body weight, garden egg is a perfect food option. This is because of its high fibre, among other things. It fills up the tummy quickly and this subsequently reduces consumption of other high calories options.
The fibre content in the eggplant also helps to lower cholesterol levels in the human body, protecting the heart in the process. It also helps to lower blood sugar. In fact, garden egg is a tremendous dietary option for diabetic patients because of its ability to reduce glucose absorption in the body, thereby lowering blood sugar levels. It also possesses low soluble carbohydrates, which assist in this regard.
Garden egg improves the digestive system and so is beneficial for constipation eradication. The mildly bitter taste of the garden egg is due to the presence of small amounts of nicotinoid alkaloids, which helps to protect users from poor vision due to glaucoma. Garden egg provides the body with both soluble vitamin and water-soluble vitamins, such as thiamin (Vitamin B1), which promotes healthy growth and proper functioning of the heart and nervous system and niacin (Vitamin B6), which supports cellular respiration.
Garden egg is good protection against cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart diseases. It is diuretic in nature, and because of this reason, pregnant women are advised not to consume it on a regular basis as it can stimulate menstruation in them. In addition to this, it is a good source of phytohormones that aids in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome and amenorrhea. For this reason, pregnant women should not take more than two garden eggs in a day.
Despite the many health benefits of the garden egg, I still prefer to prescribe the leaves to my clients, as I find the leaves safer and more effective. Garden egg leaves are known as natural blood cleansing herbs, especially when eaten raw. The leaves serve as detoxifiers to the kidney, and it’s more effective when eaten raw or converted into juice by boiling for a few seconds and then filtering the juice in a container. This juice can be taken three times daily. This helps in cleansing the kidney by filtering the blood and unwanted materials from entering the organ, thereby preventing any form of kidney related issues, especially the ones that will disrupt the blood filtration and purification like in kidney failure. The mineral potassium, which can be found in garden egg leaves also help the kidney to improves its function of filtering blood.
Garden egg leaves contain an anti-inflammatory property, which makes it one of the suitable vegetables, used to reduce swelling and prevent cancer-causing inflammations. These vegetables help in the prevention of cancer formation due to the presence of phytochemicals that fight free radicals prone to cause inflammations that might lead to cancerous diseases in the body system. Studies have shown that polyphenols in eggplant have anti-cancer effects. The anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid that are contained in garden egg help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, thus preventing tumour growth and the spread of cancer cells. It was also shown that the anti-cancer action of anthocyanins appears to include preventing new blood vessels from forming in a tumour, reducing inflammation and blocking the enzymes that help cancer cells to spread.
Studies have shown that the importance of garden egg to the liver cannot be overemphasised because the antioxidants in garden egg help protect the liver from certain toxins, thereby making it a remedy for liver issues. Just like garden egg itself, many African cultures believe that garden egg and its leaves represent fertility and have been used locally in the treatment of infertility and low libido. Though there is no scientific proof to back this up for now, in many locals where it is used for this purpose, they believe it works, and it helps to boost their sexual health as well for both men and women.