The eggplant, aubergine or brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking.
As a night-shade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. It is a short-lived perennial plant often cultivated as an annual. While the different varieties do range slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe the eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture.
In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin.
Phenolic compounds are function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from exposure to the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi. The predominant phenolic compound found in eggplant is chlorogenic acid, which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues.
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