The good egg

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Nutritious eggplant is not only cheap, tasty, and easy to cook but also good for treating gout and looking after the circulatory system, according to herbalist Duong Tan Hung.

The flesh of an eggplant absorbs cholesterol and alkaline salts, reducing their level in the bloodstream and thereby lessening atherosclerosis and preventing primary diabetes. It also lowers blood glucose level, and removes urea from the system, thereby easing gout, a common affliction in middle-aged men who drink too much, says Hung. He also advises older women to eat eggplant to ward off strokes.

Eggplant, or solanum melongena, has sweet and salty properties, is rich in potassium and calcium, and contains proteins, glucids, lipids, phosphorus, manganese, sulphur, and vitamins A, E, B1, and B12, according to Hung and his colleague in natural medicine Dr Pho Thuan Huong. The vitamins are found in both the flesh and the skin.

Here are some simple eggplant-based remedies from Hung and Huong.

- To stimulate gall excretion, prevent the formation of gallstones and kidney stones, reduce inflammation of the spleen, and cool the liver, start off by grilling 150g of unpeeled mature eggplant. Chop it into medium-sized pieces and mix in salt, sesame and sugar to taste. Eat once daily for four weeks.

- Here's a recipe for keeping middle-aged joints in good nick. Take 200g of mature eggplant, remove the stem and cut into 4cm slices. In a pot, mix the eggplant with 5g of rock sugar or honey, 50g of black jujubes and 20g of unpolished brown rice and add 500ml of water. Bring the water to a boil, then let simmer until the liquid is reduced to 200ml. This natural remedy should be eaten three times a day for six weeks.

- To treat constipation, indigestion, weak kidneys, and obesity from fatty liver disease, simply grill 300g of ripe eggplant until the skin rubs off easily. Eat once daily for ten days with 50g of the perennial mountain herb rau diếp cá (heartleaf or houttuynia cordata, also known as the chameleon plant or lizard tail).

- Chicken and eggplant soup is a tasty way to lose weight and lower blood pressure. The ingredients for this are one cockerel, 200g eggplant, 15g sơn tra (medlar or docynia doumeri schneid), 5g of ginger, 10g of spring onion, cooking oil and salt. Start off by cleaning the chicken, discard the viscera, wash the gutted bird in water, and cut it into medium-sized pieces. Next, wash and cut the eggplant and spring onions into medium pieces, peel and slice the ginger. Heat oil in a pot, fry ginger and spring onions until they become fragrant. Add chicken and stir-fry. Add water, and put the eggplant, sơn tra, and a pinch of salt in the pot. Bring the water to the boil, then turn down the heat and let the chicken and eggplant simmer for 30 minutes. Eat the chicken and eggplant soup as a full meal once a day.

- To treat bronchitis, wash 500g of eggplant, then peel and slice it lengthwise. Cut an inch of ginger into four pieces and mash three bulbs of garlic. Mix the garlic with soy sauce, a little oil, salt and sugar. Place the lot in a bowl and steam for 20 minutes.

Interestingly, researchers at the University of Michigan in the United States have discovered that eggplant contains nicotine and suggest eating it as a substitute for smoking. In some tests, eating ten grams of eggplant gave the same kick as smoking tobacco for three hours straight.

A word of warning: Dr Huong advises one should not eat eggplant with other food that cools the body, and suggests spicing up any eggplant dish with some ginger. Herbalist Hung says one must avoid spoiled eggplant and especially baby eggplant as the latter contains a harmful substance called solanin.

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