Can you eat eggplant raw?
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat eggplant raw?” and discuss is it safe?
Can you eat eggplant raw?
Yes, you can eat eggplant raw. Even though eating raw eggplants is very beneficial to your health, the flavor of raw eggplants can be revolting due to the presence of saponins and glycoalkaloids in its composition (1,2).
Raw eggplant is packed with nutrients including protein, fat, carbs, and a variety of vitamins, as well as minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron (3).
Raw eggplant has a great vitamin P concentration that seems to be found mainly in the peel (4). Vitamin P also called rutin seems to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and cardioprotective action (5). When it comes to cardiovascular health, vitamin P softens blood vessels, increases their flexibility, and toughens them up (6).
Is it safe to consume eggplant raw?
Raw eggplant is safe to consume, but there are a few things to bear in mind before doing so. The nightshade family includes eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes, all of which contain the toxin solanine.
The solanine in raw eggplant is generally safe for most people to consume in moderation without suffering any negative side effects, but some individuals are hypersensitive to it and have stomach pain, vomiting and flushing as a result. Poisoning by solanine is not very common but it has been reported before (7).
The solanine content of mature vegetables is very low. Glycoalkaloid concentrations are higher in immature vegetables (8). Raw eggplant, depending on the variety, may be bitter.
However, it may be prepared and handled in many ways to give it a variety of tastes and textures. Besides, one alternative is to salt the eggplant and let it drain completely before eating. You should rinse and squeeze the eggplant dry before eating it since the salting releases moisture that carries bitterness.
What are the risks of eating eggplant raw?
As mentioned above, eating raw eggplant may cause you poisoning. It is because solanine is a substance produced by potato, tomato and eggplant as a protection against insects and it can be poisoning to human if eaten in a large amount.
The safe level of human glycoalkaloid consumption is 1 mg/kg body weight and even this level can cause gastrointestinal symptoms (10). So, If you , choose to eat it raw, a good recommendation is to peel it before consuming it.
What are the risks of eating vegetables raw?
The risks of eating vegetables raw go beyond solanine or other potentially toxic substances produced by vegetables. It may also be related to food contamination with germs such as bacteria.
Salmonella, E. Colli e Listeria are responsible for a large percentage of foodborne illness in the USA. So the safest is to have vegetable cooked, if not possible, you may wash it appropriately under running water (16).
Does cooking eliminate solanine from eggplant?
Cooking does not eliminate solanine. This compound is heat-stable and it seems to decompose at temperatures above 230℃ (14). Blanching, on the other hand, seems to reduce solanine levels by 35%-56% (15), making it an option for eggplant lovers.
How to cook eggplants safely to reduce the risks?
To reduce the risks of poisoning you may blanch the eggplant. Blanching consists of pouring round slices of eggplant into boiling water for about four minutes and then into ice water to quickly cool it down.\ You can do it before preparing a dish or in order to freeze not only eggplant but also other vegetables.
Who would not eat vegetables raw?
People with weak immune systems would not eat eggplant or other vegetables raw. If you have any condition that weakens your body you should avoid eating food that is not cooked or washed properly (12).
Health conditions like cancer, liver disease, HIV among others, can reduce the ability of your body to fight against bacteria and germs and so, you are more likely to have a foodborne illness and to present more severe symptoms.
Pregnant women, adults aged 65 or more and children younger than 5 are also groups more susceptible to develop severe symptoms in case of food poisoning (13).
When is it inappropriate to consume eggplant raw?
It is inappropriate to consume eggplant raw when it is spoiled. Fresh eggplants will keep for three to five days at room temperature if stored properly (9). Choose a vegetable with vivid color and a firm texture the moment you buy it. If you realize the eggplant is moldy, do not eat. Some molds are toxic and they can cause you allergy and even respiratory problems (11).
In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat eggplant raw?” “is it safe” and “when is it inappropriate to consume eggplant?”
- Umesh K. Kandoliya, Vijay K. Bajaniya, Nikunj K. Bhadja, Neha P. Bodar and Baljibhai A. Golakiya. Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci (2015)4(2):806-813.
- Filomena Lelario, Susanna De Maria, Anna Rita Rivelli, Daniela Russo, Luigi Milella, Sabino Aurelio Bufo, and Laura Scrano. A Complete Survey of Glycoalkaloids Using LC-FTICR-MS and IRMPD in a Commercial Variety and a Local Landrace of Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) and their Anticholinesterase and Antioxidant Activities. Toxins 2019, 11(4), 230.
- U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169228/nutrients
- Riyue Dong , Bingwei Yu , Shuangshuang Yan , Zhengkun Qiu Jianjun Lei, Changming Chen, Ye Li, Bihao Cao. Analysis of Vitamin P Content and Inheritance Models in Eggplant. Horticultural Plant Journal, 6, (4), July 2020, p. 240-246.
- Gullon, B., T. A. Lu-Chau, M. T. Moreira, J. M. Lema, and G. Eibes. 2017. Rutin: A review on extraction, identification and purification methods, biological activities and approaches to enhance its bioavailability. Trends in Food Science and Technology 67:220–235.
- Hosseinzadeh H, Nassiri-Asl M. Review of the protective effects of rutin on the metabolic function as an important dietary flavonoid. J Endocrinol Invest. 2014;37:783–788.
- Donald G. Barceloux MD. Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Solanine Toxicity (Solanum tuberosum L., Solanum lycopersicum L.) Disease-a-Month. Volume 55, Issue 6, June 2009, Pages 391-402.
- T C Cronk, G D Kuhn, F J McArdle. The influence of stage of maturity, level of nitrogen fertilization and storage on the concentration of solanine in tubers of three potato cultivars. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 1974 Feb;11(2):163-8.
- Sudhir Singh, B. Singh, Tanweer Alam. Evaluation of shelf-life, antioxidant activity and nutritional quality attributes in carnauba wax coated eggplant genotypes. J Food Sci Technol. 2019 Nov; 56(11): 4826–4833.
- Mendel Friedman, P. R.Henika and B. E. Mackey. Feeding of Potato, Tomato and Eggplant Alkaloids Affects Food Consumption and Body and Liver Weights in Mice.
- US Departament of Agriculture. Molds on Food: Are they Dangerous? Last updated Aug, 22, 2013. Available at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/molds-food-are-they-dangerous. Accessed on 22 May 2023.
- New Zealand Food Safety. Food Safety when you have low immunity. Updated August, 2022. Available at: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/7260-Food-safety-when-you-have-low-immunity Accessed on 22 May 2023.
- FoodSafety.gov. Last review on March, 31, 2022. Available at: https://www.foodsafety.gov/people-at-risk/people-with-weakened-immune-systems Accessed on 23 May 2023.
- L. Bejarano, A. Devaux, N. Espinola, E. Mignolet, E. Carrasco, and Y. Larondelle, “Glycoalkaloids in potato tubers: the effect of variety and drought stress on the α‐solanine and α‐chaconine contents of potatoes,” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 80, no. 14, pp. 2096–2100, 2000.
- Łukasz P. Haliński, Alan Puckowski, Piotr Stepnowski. Glycoalkaloid, phytosterol and fatty acid content of raw and blanched leaves of the gboma eggplant (Solanum macrocarpon L.). Journal of Food and Nutrition Research (2015), 54, 9-20.
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Fruit and Vegetable Safety. Available in: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps-healthy-fruits-veggies.html#:~:text=manage%20your%20weight.-,Sometimes%2C%20raw%20fruits%20and%20vegetables%20contain%20harmful%20germs%20that%20can,the%20next%20safest%20is%20washed.CDC . Last updated on 31 jan 2023. Accessed on 27 May 2023.