Is It Safe to Eat Eggplant During Pregnancy?
- What Is an Eggplant?
- Nutritional Value of Brinjal (Eggplant)
- Can You Eat Brinjal During Pregnancy?
- How Many Brinjals Should You Eat When Pregnant?
- Health Benefits of Eating Brinjal During Pregnancy
- Side-Effects of Having Brinjal While Pregnant
- Ways to Add Eggplant to Your Diet
- Eggplant Dishes That Are Safe to Eat in Pregnancy
- Brinjal Recipes to Try in Pregnancy
- Things to Remember
Maintaining a well-balanced diet during pregnancy is crucial to ensure both the mother’s and baby’s optimal health. While some foods require caution, brinjal, known as aubergine or eggplant, can be safely incorporated into a pregnant woman’s diet. Brinjal or eggplant is a delicious vegetable that can be boiled, baked, fried, or made into chips. Besides being delicious, eating brinjal in pregnancy has health benefits, such as boosting immunity and regulating cholesterol. However, over time, there have been several taboos regarding consuming brinjal during pregnancy and its heat-inducing effects on the foetus. It’s time to bust these myths and get a reality check on the truth about eating brinjal in pregnancy.
In this article, we will look into the advantages of consuming brinjal during pregnancy, address concerns and provide valuable information for expectant mothers.
What Is an Eggplant?
An eggplant is more popularly known as aubergine or brinjal. It is a plant that is extensively grown for its fruit. An eggplant is shaped like an egg, looks glossy, and is purple in colour. Eggplants are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals and are well-liked by people worldwide for their various health benefits.
Nutritional Value of Brinjal (Eggplant)
The following table lists the approximate values of the nutrition components of brinjal. These values can, however vary depending on the variety and freshness of the brinjal:
|Value Per 100 Grams
Can You Eat Brinjal During Pregnancy?
Is eating brinjal or aubergines during pregnancy beneficial? The answer is simple – it is recommended for pregnant women due to its various health benefits. Brinjal helps in the development of the foetus as it provides vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin E. Brinjal also contains folic acid, which boosts the development of red blood cells in the developing foetus. So, what are the health benefits of eating brinjal during pregnancy? Read on.
How Many Brinjals Should You Eat When Pregnant?
There are no specific guidelines regarding the amount of brinjal (eggplant) to consume during pregnancy. However, brinjal can be safely included in a balanced diet during pregnancy.
The key is maintaining variety in your diet and consuming various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats, and not just sticking to one vegetable or fruit during the entire pregnancy phase. It is advisable to eat brinjal in moderation due to solanine, a natural compound found in nightshade vegetables, including brinjal. Large quantities of solanine may cause digestive discomfort. Cooking brinjal thoroughly can help reduce solanine levels and make it easier to digest.
To ensure a balanced diet during pregnancy, it is recommended to consult your dietitian, who can provide personalised guidance based on your individual nutritional needs and any specific dietary restrictions or concerns you may have.
Health Benefits of Eating Brinjal During Pregnancy
Here are some of the benefits of eating brinjal during pregnancy:
1. Enhances immunity
Brinjal is found to be rich in vitamin C, which is known to augment the body’s resistance against various diseases. Brinjal is, thus, good for pregnancy, as it keeps the pregnant woman away from health problems, keeping both mom and baby safe.
2. Decreases risk of hypertension
A pregnant woman is more vulnerable to hypertension and blood pressure problems, and for this reason, eggplant is a recommended diet option. Eggplant is rich in thiamin, bioflavonoids, and riboflavin, which help regulate hypertension. Brinjal helps regulate blood pressure levels, assures a good heart rate and mitigates the risk of other health problems a woman may experience during pregnancy.
3. Boosts proper development of the baby
Eggplant or brinjal is rich in vitamin A, vitamin E, B complex, and niacin. These rich sources together help in the proper growth of the foetus. It also is abundant in folate, which aids in the development of the brain and cognitive abilities in the baby. It even reduces the risk of neural tube defects, boosting the development of red blood cells in the fetus.
4. Helps regulate cholesterol levels
Eggplants are believed to reduce bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and boost good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. By regulating cholesterol levels, eggplants also help in mitigating heart-related issues and boost a pregnant woman’s cardiovascular well-being.
5. Helps treat digestive issues
Brinjal is rich in dietary fibre, which helps to process food and waste in the intestines easily and mitigates digestion issues in a pregnant woman. Brinjal also ensures normal bowel movements, thus eliminating one major problem a pregnant woman faces constipation.
6. Increases RBC (red blood cells) count
Red blood cells (RBCs) are essential for the growth of the foetus as they help develop nerves, brain cells, and muscles and also ensure sufficient iron levels in both the mother and the baby. Brinjal contains folate, which transforms into folic acid. Folic acid is the basic source of the production of red blood cells, thus making brinjal an essential food for pregnant women.
7. Helps regulate electrolyte balance
Eggplant is rich in various minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium, copper, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. These minerals help regulate the body’s electrolyte balance and blood supply in both mother and baby.
8. Helps keep a check on gestational diabetes
Pregnant women are more vulnerable to developing gestational diabetes. In such cases, regulating one’s blood sugar levels becomes essential, and eggplant does exactly that. Consuming brinjal in pregnancy’s first trimester helps in controlling blood sugar levels by managing any fluctuations in the same.
Side-Effects of Having Brinjal While Pregnant
The benefits of consuming brinjal are plenty, but it also has some negatives. We have listed some of them below:
1. May lead to premature delivery
Just like with any other fruit or vegetable, washing brinjal thoroughly before cooking is essential. Brinjal grows in soil that is rich in toxoplasmosis, which is known to cause premature delivery. Thus, you must wash the brinjal (and any other vegetable you are consuming) thoroughly before consuming it.
2. May lead to allergies
In some cases, pregnant women may suffer from allergies to eating brinjal in excessive quantities. Even if you don’t have a history of allergies towards brinjal, it may cause mild itching or rashes. Remember not to consume brinjal if you are allergic to the vegetable.
3. May lead to acidity
Brinjal is known to induce high acidity levels in pregnant women, which may cause them anxiety and discomfort. Brinjal in excess is not recommended for pregnant women to avoid high acidity levels.
4. Digestive Disturbances
Eating brinjal during pregnancy can sometimes cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhoea. The high fibre content in brinjal and hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to these discomforts. It is important to consume brinjal in moderation and be aware of your body’s response to it.
5. Gestational Diabetes Risk
Brinjal has a moderate glycemic index, which can affect blood sugar levels. Pregnant women with a history of gestational diabetes or those at risk of developing it should be cautious when consuming Brinjal. The vegetable’s carbohydrates can contribute to elevated blood sugar levels, potentially increasing the risk of gestational diabetes.
6. Interference With Iron Absorption
Brinjal contains oxalate, which can hinder iron absorption from other foods. Iron is crucial during pregnancy to support the baby’s development and prevent anaemia in the mother. If brinjal is consumed excessively or alongside iron-rich foods, it may reduce the body’s ability to absorb the necessary iron, potentially leading to iron deficiency anaemia. Hence consuming brinjal during pregnancy’s second trimester may be risky, but it can be made safer after consulting with your healthcare provider.
Ways to Add Eggplant to Your Diet
Having discussed the pros and the cons, let’s discuss how eggplant can be added to a pregnant woman’s diet. One should consider the following suggestions to ensure brinjal provides more benefits than side effects.
- Indian households have varied brinjal or eggplant recipes that are lip-smacking and super healthy. You don’t have to go out of your way to make a fancy dish with brinjal; having your regular bharta or sabzi with roti or rice is enough.
- If you want to improvise or consume brinjal differently, you can saute thin vegetable slices in olive oil. Add other veggies to it as well. Put some salt, pepper, and herbs, and enjoy.
- For a slightly fancier dish, saute thin slices of eggplant in olive oil after coating them in breadcrumbs, and top them off with a creamy sauce made of cheese or homemade mayo.
Eggplant Dishes That Are Safe to Eat in Pregnancy
It’s important to cook brinjal recipes using fresh ingredients, ensure proper hygiene during food preparation, and avoid excessive use of oil or spices if it doesn’t agree with your palate or digestive system during pregnancy. Here are a few eggplant dishes that are considered safe for pregnant women, offering a range of flavours and nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy:
1. Baingan Bharta
Baingan bharta is a popular Indian dish made from roasted eggplant mashed and cooked with onions, tomatoes, and a blend of aromatic spices. This flavorful dish is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre, making it a nutritious choice for pregnant women. Serve it with roti or rice for a complete meal.
2. Aloo Baingan
Aloo baingan is a delicious combination of eggplant and potatoes cooked with Indian spices. The eggplant and potatoes are typically sautéed with onions, ginger, garlic, and a mix of turmeric, cumin, and coriander. This dish provides a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and essential nutrients for expecting mothers.
3. Bharwa Baingan
Bharwa baingan, also known as stuffed eggplant, is a flavorful dish where small eggplants are stuffed with a mixture of spices, herbs, and sometimes nuts or grated coconut. The stuffed eggplants are then cooked in a tangy tomato-based gravy. This delicious dish offers good dietary fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Brinjal Recipes to Try in Pregnancy
Exploring unique and flavourful brinjal (eggplant), recipes can add variety to a pregnant woman’s diet while ensuring the consumption of essential nutrients. Here are a few delightful brinjal recipes that are safe to enjoy during pregnancy, providing a range of textures and flavours to satisfy your cravings and nourish your body.
1. Baingan Bhaja
Baingan bhaja is a popular Bengali dish that involves frying slices of brinjal coated with spiced gram flour (besan) batter until crispy and golden.
What You Need:
- 1 medium-sized brinjal
- ½ cup gram flour (besan)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- Oil for frying
How to Cook:
- Slice the brinjal into thin round pieces.
- Mix the gram flour, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and salt in a bowl.
- Dip each brinjal slice into the batter, coating it well.
- Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the brinjal slices until crispy and golden on both sides.
- Serve the baingan bhaja as a tasty snack or as a side dish with rice or roti.
2. Gutti Vankaya Kura
Gutti vankaya kura is a popular Andhra Pradesh dish where small brinjals are stuffed with a spicy and tangy masala mixture and then cooked to perfection.
What You Need:
- 6-8 small brinjals
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Tamarind pulp (lemon-sized ball soaked in water)
- Salt to taste
- Oil for cooking
How to Cook:
- Slit each brinjal lengthwise, ensuring not to cut them into two halves.
- In a pan, dry roast sesame, desiccated coconut, coriander, and cumin seeds until fragrant.
- Grind the roasted ingredients, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tamarind pulp, and salt to form a smooth paste.
- Stuff the brinjals with the prepared masala paste.
- Heat oil in a pan and add the stuffed brinjals. Cover and cook on low heat until the brinjals are tender and cooked through.
- Serve the gutti vankaya kura with rice or roti for a delicious and fulfilling meal.
3. Ennai Kathirikkai Kuzhambu
Ennai Kathirikkai Kuzhambu, also known as Stuffed Eggplant Curry, is a delicious South Indian dish. It features eggplants stuffed with a flavorful spice mix and cooked in a tangy tamarind gravy. Here’s the recipe for Ennai Kathirikkai Kuzhambu:
What You Need:
- 6 small to medium-sized eggplants (preferably Indian variety)
- 1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind
- 2 tablespoons gingelly (sesame) oil (you can use any cooking oil as an alternative)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- A few curries leaves
- Salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon chana dal (split Bengal gram)
- 1 tablespoon urad dal (split black gram)
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 4-5 dried red chillies
- 2 tablespoons grated coconut
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, roughly chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- a 1-inch piece of ginger
- 2 tablespoons grated coconut
How to Cook:
- Soak the tamarind in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. Extract the tamarind pulp and set it aside.
- Dry roast the ingredients for the stuffing (coriander seeds, chana dal, urad dal, fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies, and grated coconut) until they turn aromatic and lightly golden. Allow them to cool.
- Grind the roasted ingredients into a coarse powder using a mixer, mortar, and pestle. Transfer the powder to a bowl and add turmeric powder and oil. Mix well to form a stuffing.
- Wash the eggplants and make a cross-shaped incision at the base, taking care not to cut them completely. Stuff the eggplants with the prepared spice mixture. Set aside any remaining spice mixture.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep pan or kadai. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds.
- Place the stuffed eggplants into the pan and cook them on medium heat for a few minutes, turning them occasionally until they are lightly browned.
- Remove the partially cooked eggplants from the pan and set them aside.
- In the same pan, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped onion, garlic cloves, ginger, and grated coconut for the spice paste. Sauté until the onion turns translucent and the coconut is lightly browned.
- Allow the sautéed mixture to cool, then grind it into a smooth paste using a blender or mixer.
- Heat the same pan again and add the ground spice paste. Sauté for a minute or two until the raw smell disappears.
- Now add the tamarind pulp, salt to taste, and the remaining spice mixture (if any). Mix well and bring the gravy to a boil.
- Gently add the partially cooked stuffed eggplants into the gravy. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the curry simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the eggplants are fully cooked and tender.
- Stir the curry occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from heat once the eggplants are cooked, and the flavours have melded together.
Things to Remember
Here are some things to keep in mind when consuming eggplant during pregnancy:
- Washing the eggplant before preparing it is highly recommended, as an unwashed eggplant may lead to bacteria and parasite-borne diseases.
- Eggplant is not recommended for pregnant women who have a history of allergies related to it.
- Cook the eggplant well to prevent any digestive issues.
- While buying eggplant, choose varieties with fewer seeds.
- Prefer organic brinjals over hybrid varieties as the pesticides used in the latter can be very harmful during pregnancy.
- While purchasing eggplant, don’t take the ones with shrivelled skin and dull appearance. Choose the ones with shinier skin and a hydrated appearance.
1. Does Brinjal Induce Labour?
No scientific evidence supports the claim that brinjal (eggplant) induces labour. While there is a traditional belief that consuming brinjal can stimulate contractions and potentially induce labour, this claim lacks scientific backing. It is important to rely on evidence-based information and consult with healthcare professionals regarding any concerns related to inducing labour.
2. Can Consuming Brinjal Cause Miscarriage?
No scientific evidence suggests that consuming brinjal (eggplant) causes miscarriage. Miscarriages are typically caused by factors unrelated to food consumption, such as genetic abnormalities, hormonal issues, or maternal health conditions. While following healthcare professionals ‘ guidance, focusing on a well-rounded and balanced diet during pregnancy, including various safe and nutritious foods, is essential. If you have concerns about specific foods and their impact on pregnancy, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider.
3. Can Eating Eggplant Affect the Baby During Pregnancy?
Eating eggplant in moderation is generally safe and can provide nutritional benefits during pregnancy. Eggplant is a good source of dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals, including folate, which is important for fetal development. However, as with any food, it is recommended to consume it in moderation as part of a balanced diet. If you have specific concerns or dietary restrictions, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for personalised advice based on your individual needs and circumstances.
4. Can the Consumption of Eggplants During Pregnancy Lead to Skin Rashes?
It is rare for the consumption of eggplants during pregnancy to lead to skin rashes. However, individual sensitivities can vary, and if you experience any adverse reactions, it is best to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Brinjal or eggplant has numerous health benefits, such as improving the circulatory system and keeping gestational diabetes at bay. However, it can lead to many health problems, such as premature delivery and increased acidity. Taking stock of this, it is best to consume eggplant in moderation. Avoid it entirely if you have had a history of problems associated with brinjal. Be extremely careful eating brinjal during pregnancy’s third trimester as complications worsen in this phase.
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