Zucchini vs Eggplant - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Zucchini and eggplant are fruity vegetables known and widely used all over the world. They are known for their beneficial impact on health. This article will compare these two foods, to see what they provide us with and what impacts they have on health.
Zucchini, otherwise named courgette, or baby marrow, all of them meaning “small marrow”, belongs to the Cucurbita genus and Cucurbitaceae family. The family includes cucumbers, luffas, squashes, melons, and watermelons.
Eggplant also has many names, including aubergine, brinjal, scientifically Solanum Melongena, and junior synonyms S.ovigerum and S.trongum. It belongs to the Solanum genus and the nightshade family Solanaceae. Belonging to the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato, potato, and chili pepper.
Differentiating these two foods is easy. The ordinary zucchini fruits are striped or uniform-colored and can be any shade of green, and the golden zucchini has a deep yellow or orange color.
Eggplant is usually purple and spongy, with smooth flesh. There are also white varieties of this food called Easter white eggplant.
Taste and Use
Zucchini is served in a variety of ways. In salads, it is eaten raw, sliced or shredded, or lightly cooked. In different countries it can be used in the kitchen in various methods, for example, cooked, boiled, grilled, baked, fried, barbequed, or incorporated in other recipes. Zucchini noodles can be made from zucchini, used as a substitute for spaghetti. Zucchini can also be cooked in different types of bread.
Eggplant is used as a vegetable in cooking, also being a good absorbent of oils and flavors. It can be steamed, fried, roasted, barbequed, pickled, stewed, or curried. In vegan and vegetarian cuisines it can be used as a meat substitute.
Zucchini has a mild flavor, it is slightly bitter but also slightly sweet, the last of which becomes more noticeable when is cooked. Eggplant also has a mild flavor and can have some bitterness, that becomes tender when cooked, more tasting like the food it’s cooked with.
Zucchini comes in many types, and each of them has a different color, taste, and appearance. Some of the most common types are Black Beauty, Dunja, Gourmet Gold, Cocozelle, Gadzukes, Caserta, Ronde de Nice, Golden Egg, Crookneck, Pattypan, Rampicante, Magda, Zephyr, Raven, Fordhook, Summer Green Tiger, Bush Baby, etc.
Black Beauty is one of the most popular varieties of this food. It’s an easy-growing vegetable, dark green to almost black from the outside, and with creamy white flesh inside.
Dunja is straight, with dark green and glossy skin. This is a preferred type for many people as it is quick and easy to harvest.
Cocozelle produces darker green streaks and is less watery than the other varieties.
Gadzukes is a dark green Italian-type zucchini, with light green ridges and star-shaped slices. It has a bland taste, with a sweet and crisp flavor.
Caserta has from light green to grey color, with alternate dark green stripes.
There are also many types of eggplants, some of its most common types are Globe or American, Italian, Indian, Graffiti, Rosa Bianca, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, White, Fairy tale, Little green, Santana, African Garden Egg, Ping Tung, and others.
Globe eggplants have a deep purple color and are wider, with a meaty and tough texture.
Italian eggplants are smaller and sweeter versions of globe eggplants, often in a teardrop shape.
Indian or baby eggplants are small and round, with a tender texture.
Graffiti, also known as striped or Sicilian eggplants, are known for their purple and white exterior, with small seeds and thin skin, making them great for eating whole.
Rosa Bianca has a bulbous shape and ombre-like appearance. They’re less bitter than most of the nightshades with a more delicate flavor.
The nutritional values are presented for raw zucchini and raw eggplant.
Macronutrients and Calories
These foods have very similar nutritional contents. Both zucchini and eggplant consist of 93% water, eggplant being only a little denser.
One serving size of zucchini is 1 cup, chopped (124g), whereas one serving size of eggplant is 1 cup in cubes that weighs 82g.
Both zucchini and eggplant are very low in calories. However, eggplant contains relatively more calories.
A 100g serving of zucchini contains 17 calories, while a 100g serving of eggplant contains 25 calories.
Protein and Fats
These foods are not rich in macronutrients, however, zucchini contains a little more protein, compared to eggplant.
Both of the foods contain a little from all essential amino acids, making their protein quality high.
Zucchini and eggplant have a very low-fat content. However, zucchini is slightly higher in fats. The predominant fats found in these foods are polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Both of these foods are absent in cholesterol.
Eggplant contains two times more carbs compared to zucchini, making zucchini a better choice for low-carb diets.
Eggplant is also three times richer in dietary fiber.
Zucchini contains almost two times more vitamins compared to eggplant. Zucchini contains eight times more vitamin C and vitamin A, it is richer in vitamins B1, B2, and B6, and vitamin K as well.
Eggplant contains two times more vitamin E and is also richer in vitamins B3 and B5.
Both of these foods contain the same amount of folate or vitamin B9 and are absent in vitamin D and B12.
Zucchini is slightly higher in minerals and is the winner in this category. It has higher levels of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
Eggplant is richer in copper and is lower in sodium when compared to zucchini.
Due to their low sugar content, zucchini and eggplant have a low glycemic index, making them a good choice for people with type 2 diabetes (1).
More information about the glycemic index of eggplant is provided here.
Both zucchini and eggplant are moderate to slightly acidic foods. The pH value of eggplant ranges from 5.5 to 6.5.
The pH value of zucchini is calculated for the cooked vegetable, falling from 5.69 to 6.10 (2).
The PRAL value or potential renal acid load value shows how much acid is produced in the organism from the given food.
The PRAL value of zucchini and eggplant are -4.2 and -3.9, respectively. The more negative PRAL value of zucchini shows that it’s slightly more base producing.
Weight Loss & Diets
Zucchini and eggplant always are good choices for weight loss diets.
A hundred gram serving of zucchini provides 17 calories, while a hundred gram serving of eggplant provides 25 calories, making zucchini a better choice for a low-calorie diet. Zucchini is also a better choice for low carbs diet. On the other hand, eggplant is preferred in a low fats diet.
These foods, being low in carbs, fats, and calories, are a good choice for keto, Atkins, and Mediterranian diets.
During the Dukan diet, baked zucchini can be used as zucchini chips or courgette crisps. Eggplant can also be eaten in phases II-IV in the Dukan diet.
Except for being nutrient-dense, containing low amounts of saturated fatty acids and sugar, being used in several weight-loss diets, these fruity vegetables also contain high amounts of antioxidants and dietary fiber, which play their roles in our organism.
These foods are rich in dietary fiber, which is reported to lower the incidence of coronary heart disease. The soluble fiber in them decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol concentrations lowering the risk of atherosclerosis (3).
Most of the data about their impact on the heart comes from research on animals. A study done on rats, on a high-fat diet, shows that increased consumption of zucchini leads to decreased cardiovascular heart disease risk. The study has also shown decreased levels of “bad” types of cholesterol (total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density, lipoproteins) and increased levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins) (4).
Another study on animals has shown that eggplants have cardioprotective effects, due to their ability to increase left ventricular function, reduce the size of myocardial infarct, and cardiomyocyte death (5).
Zucchini, being rich in potassium, regulates blood flow by dilating blood vessels and blood pressure. Reduction of blood pressure levels decreases cerebrovascular and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality (6,7).
Both zucchini and eggplant are low glycemic index foods, containing low amounts of sugar but are rich in dietary fiber. As said before, being used in weight loss diets and having low glycemic index values, these foods reduce the risks of developing type 2 diabetes or the need for medication.
Several studies have shown that foods rich in fiber, such as zucchini and eggplant, may improve blood glucose levels and lower insulin resistance (8,9).
Soluble dietary fiber also improves the fasting blood glucose, fasting C-peptide (a connective peptide that participates in the synthesis of insulin), triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein levels (10).
Zucchini has a potential anticancer activity due to its direct cytotoxic effect, which is later enhanced by its antioxidant properties (11). The seed extract inhibits the cell growth of fast-growing cells, one of which are tumor cells, mostly showing their effect on breast, colon, and prostate cancers (12).
Solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs) are chemotherapeutic agents derived from eggplant for the treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers by causing the death of the cells. SRGs in a cream formulation Curaderm BEC5 can be used in the treatment of skin cancers from small to large sizes, even difficult to treat areas can be effectively treated (13,14).
The antioxidant nasunin, found in the skin of eggplants, glycoalkaloids, and metabolites inhibit the growth of human colon and liver cancers (15,16).
Dietary fiber plays its role in reducing the risk of some cancers as well. Several studies suggest dietary fiber reduces the risk of ovarian, breast, esophageal, and gastric cancers (17,18,19,20). On the other hand, study results are contradictory for colorectal cancer.
Dietary fiber found in zucchini and eggplant is known to show protective effects against certain gastrointestinal diseases such as Chron’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis, obesity, and diabetes (21).
Dietary fiber leads to increased mechanical stimulation or irritation of the colonic mucosa with increased secretion and peristalsis, which also leads to increased fecal mass (22).
Short-chain fatty acids are produced by gut microbiota by fermentation of dietary fiber and they lead to mechanisms that play a key role in maintaining homeostasis in the gut and other organs (23).
Phytotheurapetic compounds in zucchini seed oil play a role in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia by causing a reduction in prostate growth, lower urinary tract symptoms related to benign prostatic hyperplasia, and leading to relaxation of the bladder sphincter for easier urination (24,25).
Downsides and Risks
There were reported cases of zucchini causing allergy, which can result from primary sensitization to the fruit, or cross-reactions to the panallergen protein called profilin and cross-reacting carbohydrate determinants (26).
Eggplant is three times richer in dietary fiber and two times richer in vitamin E.
Zucchini contains eight times more vitamins A and C, is also rich in vitamins B1, B2, and B6, vitamin K, iron, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
Along with beneficial effects on health, zucchini and eggplant are used in treatments of benign prostatic adenoma and skin cancer, respectively.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values