Kidney Diet Tips

Food Facts Friday: The Incredible Eggplant

One interesting fact about eggplant is that it is a berry and not considered a vegetable. This purple veggie is also known as aubergine, garden egg and guinea squash. Eggplants are a species of nightshade, a plant family that includes several varieties of flowering plants. Sometimes nightshades get a bad reputation because they are considered toxic. However, only some varieties of nightshades are toxic and eggplant can be safely incorporated into the renal diet.

Nutrients in Eggplant

Half of a cup of cubed eggplant contains 94 mg of potassium, 1 gram of fiber, 2 gram of carbohydrate and 10 mg phosphorus. It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and Vitamin B6, therefore it is a great food to incorporate into your diet.

Fiber is important for the gastrointestinal system; it can help with bowel movements. Many medications on dialysis have constipation as a side effect. Getting enough fiber in the diet will help keep those bowel movements regular. Vitamin B6 aids in over 100 enzyme reactions in the body.  Enzymes help move along chemical reactions in the body; with B6 many of those are protein reactions. Check out vitamin B6 Fact Sheet.

Eggplants also contain an antioxidant called anthocyanins. Antioxidants help balance the free radicals that can form in the body from oxidative stress. Generally speaking free radicals are groups of unstable atoms that can start to cause cell damage over time. Oxygen can wreak havoc on the body if it does not have all its electrons paired. This article from Live Science can help explain free radicals more in-depth.

How to Choose and Store Eggplant

When looking for eggplant, you want the skin to be smooth, firm and shiny. If the skin is mushy, wrinkled or the stem is not green, it is likely over-ripe. The berry should not be kept too cold or too warm, so storing it at room temperature while it is still whole is best before it is cooked or prepared. Wrapping it in plastic is something else you will want to avoid. Hence, using the fruit within one week is best.

Cooking and Recipe Ideas

The best way to prepare an eggplant is to bake, roast or steam it. Eggplant can be made into salads with a homemade marinade and herbs, in casseroles or even made into eggplant fries! The following are some eggplant recipes from DaVita that are unique and flavorful. 

In conclusion, trying new foods can be an adventure. Eggplant does not have a strong flavor, but it can be bitter if you do not prepare it correctly.  It is easy to use, so hopefully you will find these recipes easy and tasty.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Jackie Termont, RD

Jackie Termont, RD

Jackie has been a dietitian since 2007, and has been dedicated to renal nutrition since 2008. For two years she was the editor for the Renal Nutrition Forum, a publication for the Renal Practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She enjoys baking, crafting, spending time with her sons and husband, and being active. She loves to experiment and come up with new recipes.