Japanese Eggplant: The New 'It' Food

This season's in-demand food is tasty, easy to cook and chock-full of nutrients.

Japanese Eggplant: The New 'It' Food
Japanese Eggplant: The New 'It' Food

To get this season's new "it" food, keep an eye out for vibrant purple the next time you're at the store or farmers' market. The Japanese eggplant may look like a smaller, longer version of its better-known cousin, but it is much easier to prepare. This low-calorie food is also chock-full of nutrients that will keep both your body and tongue happy.

The Japanese eggplant's thinner skin may be more easily cooked and consumed than the thick skin of a normal eggplant. The skin is also full of fiber that can help keep you feeling full, regulate your digestion and even lower cholesterol. The spongy inside is nearly seedless and easily soaks up sauces and extra flavor, so you don't need to add much to give the taste a kick. Japanese eggplant is also less bitter than regular eggplant.

Not only is it tasty, but Japanese eggplant (which is technically a fruit) also has few calories – only 20 calories per cup – and is very low in saturated fat and sodium. It delivers a hefty nutrient punch of vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese. It also contains antioxidants such as nasunin, which gives eggplant its purple color and may help protect cell membranes in the brain.

To pick the best Japanese eggplant, choose one that's firm, shiny and heavy – this will up your chances that it is fresh and not overly spongy. Its shelf life is a little shorter than a normal eggplant's, so use it within a week after buying it. You can cut it into slices and grill, sauté or bake it, and eat it alone or added to your favorite pizza, pasta or stir-fry dish. But make sure you don’t go overboard with marinades that can add sugar, salt and calories.

Will you ever feel comfortable in your own skin? That is, if you don't make an effort to protect it? Although 64% of adults do report wearing sunscreen when outside for prolonged periods of time, it turns out that only about 10% of people surveyed actually protect themselves daily, according to a recent review.

No matter what your skin tone is, unless you live in a cave with no sunlight, daily protection with either sunscreen, sunblock or protective clothing can not only protect you from developing sunburns (ouch!) but can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly the deadliest type called melanoma. In addition, for those of you wanting to keep your youthful looks, daily sunscreen has been shown to reduce the development of wrinkles. A great teacher once told me that the best way to not have wrinkles is not to get them in the first place (think of how much money you can save on useless creams that claim to diminish wrinkles).

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