This is NOT the typical eggplant casserole from your local trattoria — dripping with artery-crippling cheese, oil, and salt — the dish that launched a thousand heart attacks. Our delectable eggplant casserole actually protects lipids like your cholesterol and helps to prevent your arteries and other tissues from severe damage. The secret? It lies just skin deep in the dark purple color of the eggplant.
That rich dark purple sheen of fresh eggplant, so pleasing to the eye, is actually a very powerful anthocyanin phytonutrient with a funny name — nasunin. And eggplant has cornered the market on this unusual molecule. Mother Nature likely cloaked the eggplant with this dark purple skin to protect the fruit from oxidative damage exacted by the rays of a blazing equatorial sun. Similarly, in our own bodies powerfully corrosive oxidative chemical reactions take place every moment in the naturally occurring lipids (or fats) of our arteries and other tissues. Known as lipid peroxidation reactions, the damage produced can cause a host of chronic diseases, from atherosclerotic heart disease to Parkinson's disease (1, 2). But we now know that dark purple nasunin is very effective in preventing lipid peroxidation (3).
At our primary care medical practice, we often check for signs of these damaging lipid peroxidation reactions by ordering specialized blood tests that may indicate if someone is at risk for cardiovascular events (4).
Protecting our lipids from oxidative damage is just one powerful way we’ve discovered that eggplant can help us. Every edible plant contains many natural compounds that are likely to benefit our health in a multitude of ways. That's why our dishes are designed to contain as large a variety of whole plant ingredients as possible.
Imagine if you were to combine a lot of different whole plants into a complete diet... you would access a powerful nutritional symphony with many players, capable of preventing and reversing disease. So strive to eat a large variety of whole plant foods daily, because they all work in concert and in so many wonderful ways, to bring us good health.
- Ron Weiss, M.D.