Eating Eggplant Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Cholesterol

Cultivated for thousands of years in its countries of origin, namely China and India, eggplant is now available across the world. Did you know that this widely consumed vegetable, also known as aubergine or brinjal, is actually a fruit? It comes in several different varieties and hues. There's the globe, or American, eggplant (the deep purplish-black kind) that is the more commonly seen variety, but there's also the Sicilian eggplant, which is rounder and of a brighter purple; the Thai eggplant that is green, white, and small; and the white eggplant. 

If you have high cholesterol, you may want to think about adding this fruit to your diet. Eggplants are a rich source of beneficial nutrients — we're talking antioxidants (like vitamin C), vitamin K, fiber, manganese, folate, potassium, and more. Several of these can help improve your cholesterol levels.

Your cholesterol levels mean more than you think. While your total serum cholesterol levels do matter, you also have to consider the levels of your LDL, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as "good" cholesterol, and triglycerides. What you want is low levels of LDL and triglycerides and higher levels of HDL. And since even aging has an unexpected effect on your cholesterol, it takes holistic effort — diet, exercise, and sometimes medication — to manage high cholesterol. That being said, let's take a closer look at how eggplant can benefit your cholesterol levels.

Nutrients in eggplant that support your cholesterol levels

According to emergency room physician Dr. Travis Stork (via The Doctors), eggplant's rich concentration of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C can help when it comes to your cholesterol levels. 

Potassium is a tricky nutrient. Too much can cause heart-related concerns like arrhythmia and heart failure, and too little can be problematic too. Consuming the right amount of potassium can be beneficial when it comes to preventing vascular calcification and artery stiffness, conditions that arise with high cholesterol. 

Additionally, vitamin C was found to decrease total cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular risk in people with type 2 diabetes or related metabolic diseases, per a 2022 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition. An older 2008 study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that vitamin C supplementation reduced serum LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. There was, however, no significant improvement in serum HDL cholesterol. 

Fiber, particularly soluble fiber (which eggplant has a lot of), influences your cholesterol levels by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in your system and lowering LDL levels. The fruit works indirectly to support your heart by promoting blood sugar control and helping with weight loss (thanks to its fiber content). Obesity and diabetes are leading risk factors when it comes to cardiovascular disease.

Eggplant's heart health benefits don't end here, however. The antioxidants in this fruit help combat heart disease. Turns out, it also contains the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which could help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, more commonly known as "bad" cholesterol.

How to consume eggplant for your cholesterol levels

Despite its mild and subtly sweet flavor, eggplant can take on unexpected textures and tastes depending on how you make it. You can bake, grill, roast, or sauté it into your favorite dishes. It's also great as a side, especially when stuffed with other healthy ingredients like couscous, lentils, beans, cheese, nuts, meat, or other veggies, or it can be made into an entire dish by itself when made as a casserole. 

"Eggplant is much more versatile than many people realize ... When roasted or broiled with plenty of olive oil, eggplant gets a tender and buttery texture I just love," shared registered dietician and certified intuitive eating counselor Rachael Hartley (via SELF). 

If you're thinking about consuming it as a main meal, however, throw in some protein, healthy fibers, healthy fats, and carbs to round out your dish. Avoid stuffing eggplants with deli meats, fatty meats, or any other source of saturated or trans fat, if you want to keep your cholesterol levels in check. 

Fans of Southeast Asian food might enjoy a brinjal curry that goes well with almost any rice-based dish. You'll need cardamom, cloves, chili, pepper, salt, coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, and mustard seeds along with the eggplant (sliced and roasted), tomato paste, curry leaves, coconut milk, and olive oil. After tossing the spices in a little bit of olive oil, throw in the eggplant, along with the salt, pepper, and chili, and simmer for a little, before adding the milk.

For more suggestions, check out foods to eat and foods to avoid for your cholesterol.