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Botanist's Lens: Solanum Happy

Could Solanum vegetables make you happy? Can eating right vegetables and fruit enhance your health as well as your mood? Well, Eggplants might just be one of the items you should add to your diet for sound sleep.

The first time I heard about 'Phytochemicals' was during a botany lecture when we were taught that eating eggplants could make you happy due to the significant amino acids such as 'Tryptophan' levels present in it. Now, that didn't quite make me start liking eggplants right away, but it certainly left me intrigued to learn more about the plant families that have essential phytochemicals that have significant impact on human health. Here are few interesting facts and articles:

"Phytochemicals are a large group of biologically active agents found in plants. Often, they have a therapeutic capacity, working as anticarcinogenics, antimutagenics and anti-inflammatory agents. Common fruits and vegetables are often quite rich in phytochemicals" (

"Scientists estimate there are more than 5,000 phytochemicals, and we're only beginning to understand what the compounds may do for human health" (

It is important to remember that research is still ongoing and phytochemical benefits aren't yet completely conclusive. Eggplants contain Tryptophan which is a plant derived amino acid that is important for the production of serotonin in our body. Our bodies cannot make tryptophan and we need to obtain it from the right diet. There are many more benefits of eating Solanum species:

"The Solanaceae family is one of the largest and most complex of the Angiosperms. It has species rich in active secondary metabolites and very important from economic, agricultural, and pharmaceutical point of view, especially the Solanum genus, one of the largest in the plant kingdom" (

The nightshade (Solanaceae) family consists of many vegetables including eggplants, tomatoes, chili peppers and potatoes. Now it might be hard to get children (or adults) to start adding eggplants or tomatoes to their diet, but it is certainly easier to add "raspberries" (Rosaceae). Berries are loaded with antioxidants!

The pictures are from our brand new demonstration garden beds (thanks to a grant received from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County) that has different vegetables growing in it. When you visit Londontown next time, take some time to show children all the delicious and phytochemical loaded cabbage, eggplants, corn, tomatoes, zucchini and many more vegetables. But most of all, talk to your children about the phyto (plant) chemicals present in these plants. Those are the superheroes that our bodies need to be truly happy!

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