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Can I Eat Raw Eggplant?

Eggplant can be eaten raw, though it is typically bitter and tastes best when cooked.
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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 April 2014
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You can safely eat raw eggplant, though there are a few basic considerations you should keep in mind when doing so. Eggplant, also called aubergine, is part of the nightshade family, along with potatoes and tomatoes, and does contain the toxin solamine. Most people can eat a reasonable amount of raw eggplant without experiencing adverse effects from the solamine, though some people can be sensitive to it and experience gastrointestinal discomfort. Depending on what type of eggplant is eaten, it may also be rather bitter when raw, though salting to remove moisture from the eggplant can solve this problem.

Raw eggplant is simply an eggplant that has not been cooked, though it can be prepared and treated in a number of different ways to give it different textures. Eggplant is quite high in dietary fiber, and contains small amounts of nutrients such as vitamins C and K. Raw eggplant is also quite high in carbohydrates, especially sugar, so many people consider it a carbohydrate with regard to balancing a meal.

If you are concerned about eating raw eggplant because it is part of the nightshade family, then you should simply monitor your intake of such plants. Potatoes and tomatoes are also part of this same family, and certain types of potatoes, green tomatoes, and eggplant all contain the toxic substance solamine. This substance is not typically poisonous for most people and can be safely consumed even when these foods are uncooked.

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Some people may have sensitivity to solamine, in which case some gastrointestinal distress may be experienced. If you feel nausea or similar symptoms after eating raw eggplant, then you should consider the possibility that you are sensitive to solamine and adjust your diet accordingly. You may have eaten too many foods together that contain solamine, such as green tomatoes and potatoes, which could produce unusually high quantities of the toxin in your system. These foods can also be toxic to animals, especially small animals, so you should generally avoid feeding these raw foods to animals.

Preparing raw eggplant is a process that can have a tremendous impact on its taste and texture. Some types of eggplant, especially Asian varieties, may have a subtle and pleasant flavor when uncooked. Other eggplant can be quite bitter when raw, and should be thoroughly salted and allowed to drain. This salting releases moisture within the eggplant, which contains the bitterness, so you should rinse off and squeeze the eggplant dry before you eat it.

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Discuss this Article

letshearit
Post 8

If you would like to add raw eggplant to your diet how do you know when the plant is ripe enough for consumption, or if it has been left out on the shelf too long?

I got quite a few eggplants from my friend and need to start eating them. Apparently there was a deal at the store that she couldn't pass up, and she decided to share her good fortune.

I usually just toss eggplant into casseroles and a really amazing chili I love to make, but have never tried eating it raw. I don't want any unpleasant surprises if it is under ripe or too far along.

manykitties2
Post 7

I actually discovered that I had an allergy to eggplant after quite a few years of enjoying it in my pasta dishes. I also loved adding raw eggplant to my salads for a bit of color.

My doctor told me that allergies to foods in the nightshade family are actually pretty common and often occur later in life. It is almost like you build up to a solamine sensitivity. For myself I had trouble breathing suddenly.

I am also allergic to shellfish so it was easy for me to recognize the signs of a food allergy. My tongue got a bit numb and I had a bit of trouble breathing. If this happens to you stop eating whatever it is and head to the hospital.

BambooForest
Post 6

I really like eggplant that is cooked properly. However, I have friends who love to cook vegetables for me at barbecues, since I am a vegetarian, and one they like to make is eggplant. I think that I must have at least a slight solamine sensitivity, because there have been several times when even lightly grilled eggplant is not cooked enough for me, and it has made me sick.

nextcorrea
Post 5

I have had delicious raw eggplant, and I have had raw eggplant that made me want to spit into my napkin. It all depends of the type of eggplant and the preparation.

In my experience the characteristic purple blobby eggplants you find at most stores do not taste very good raw. If you get Chinese eggplants though they taste great when served without cooking. But this might just be my own taste buds. Try both for yourself and see which you prefer before trying any specific raw eggplant recipe.

chivebasil
Post 4

There is a Thai restaurant close to my house that serves a salad of bean sprouts, carrot shaving and eggplant sticks tossed in some kind of Asian dressing. It is absolutely delicious. I love the addition of the eggplant because of its soft texture and its ability to soak up and complement the flavors around it. I wish more people would tinker with it in its raw form.

summing
Post 3

Exposure to solamine is a risk for some but they are in the extreme minority. I spent a few years as part of a raw foods collective and we ate just about anything and everything you could think of raw. I can;t remember any member having or developing a reaction to solamine. In fact the only real changes for us were positive. More energy, a sharper mind, more regular digestion and a general feeling of well being. The experience was remarkably positive.

SZapper
Post 2

@JaneAir - I'm very interested in doing a little bit more research about solamine. I never knew you could ingest a toxic substance from eating a raw potato, raw eggplant, or a green tomato. Although, I don't see why anyone would want to eat a raw potato anyway!

JaneAir
Post 1

I have a good friend with a solamine sensitivity. This is quite unfortunate, because she loves raw eggplant, which is how she discovered the sensitivity in the first place!

I never knew eating green tomatoes could make a person more sensitive to solamine though. I'll have to ask my friend is she ever went through a phase where she at a lot of green tomatoes. Maybe that's how she developed her sensitivity.

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