Does eggplant cause gas? It can do – and, if eggplant or aubergine (whichever you call it), leaves you bloated after eating it, then you probably want to know why it happens – and how to stop it.
And that’s where we come in.
Why Can Eggplant Cause Gas?
Well, the good news is that for most people it doesn’t.
‘Eggplant/aubergine is unlikely to cause gas when eaten at a normal portion (eg. around 80g per meal). Eighty grams is considered a portion of fruit and veg for an adult,’ says Anna Mapson, registered nutritional therapist specialising in IBS and reflux at Goodness Me Nutrition.
‘However, if you eat a large amount in one go you may find it creates bloating or excess gas due to the high fibre and sorbitol content it contains.’
Sorbitol is a type of sugar alcohol naturally found in many healthy fruit and vegetables, and some people with IBS may find eating large amounts of foods containing it create gas. Other foods, which are high in sorbitol avocado, apricots or sweetcorn will have a similar effect.’
Why Does Sorbitol Cause Gas?
Sorbitol is what’s known as a sugar alcohol. ‘And sugar alcohols draw water into the small intestine and may cause additional bloating or bubbling in the intestines,’ says Anna.
On top of this, the gut bacteria feed on the fibre that’s found in eggplant and this also creates gas. Most people don’t really notice this, they just pass it out naturally, but in people with IBS or sensitive digestive systems an level of excessive gas formed if the eggplant hangs around in the digestive system for too long, can cause problems like stomach cramps and bloating.
The combination is the most common reason why eggplants (or aubergine) causes gas. But it isn’t the only reason you might get gas after eating eggplant.
Can Eggplant Cause Diarrhea?
Excessive amounts of sorbitol can also make the bowel move more quickly, so if you’re wondering if eggplant can also lead to diarrhea, the answer is yes.
The Nightshade Story
‘Some people also find they don’t digest plants from the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, very well,’ says Anna.
There’s two potential reasons for this. Nightshades contain ingredients called lectins which many natural therapists believe can upset in the gut in those sensitive to them.
On top of this, foods in the nightshade family contain natural chemicals called glycoalkaloids. These are in the plant to protect them against attack by insects and most people can consume normal amounts of them without an side effects.
However, some people find that even normal quantities of glycoalkaloids can irritate a sensitive digestive system.
‘Aubergines/eggplants also contain a chemical called salicylates which is also found in aspirin and some people with a very sensitive digestion may find this causes digestive discomfort,’ says Anna
So there’s quite a few reasons why eggplant/aubergine causes gas – but, this doesn’t mean you need to eliminate the veggies from your diet completely – there’s a few tricks that can reduce the risk of eggplant causing bloating.
Does Baba Ganoush Cause Gas?
The main ingredient in the dip Baba Ganoush is eggplant/aubergine, so, if you’re sensitive to aubergine, then it’s likely that you’ll also get bloating after eating baba ganoush.
Other dishes that commonly contain eggplant include brinjal pickle and brinjal curry (brinjal is the name for eggplant/aubergine in India)
Caponata is usually eggplant-based, it’s also a common ingredient in ratatouille, and parmigiana – the US version, not the Aussie one – is eggplant based.
How Make Eggplant Less Gassy
Giving up eggplant isn’t the best idea as it is a healthy food. It’s a good source of fibre, and the colour of the skin shows that it contains antioxidants which are beneficial to health, so you might want to try the following tricks that allow you to eat eggplant and not feel bloated before you start leaving it out of your diet completely.
Keep To the Suggested Portion Size
As we said, one of the main reasons why eggplant causes bloating is sorbitol. Sorbitol is part of a group of sugars called FODMAPs that many people find can trigger digestive symptoms.
Because reactions to FODMAPs are so common – and, because moderating FODMAP intake has shown good results in managing symptoms of IBS, experts at Australia’s Monash University have worked out the perfect portion size of FODMAP containing foods that are least likely to upset stomachs.
And for aubergine/eggplant, they have determined that 75g is unlikely to cause problems in most people sensitive to sorbitol.
Some people might be able to eat up to 182g without symptoms.
Peel Your Aubergine
If cutting down your portion size, doesn’t help – or you’re already realising that you also feel bloated after eating other members of the nightshade family like tomatoes or potato, then sorbitol might not be your problem, you might be reacting to one of the other ingredients in eggplant.
In which case, try peeling the aubergine before you cook/eat it.
Most of the glycoalkaloids in nightshades are found in the skin of the plant and so, removing it might help reduce the risk of irritation if these are your main problem.
This will reduce the antioxidant levels in your diet, so you might want to include low sorbitol purple foods like blueberries to help balance your colours.
Check Your Combinations
Many dishes containing eggplant also contain other nightshades – ratatouille and caponata, for example, often include tomatoes, peppers and aubergine. Moussaka contains tomato and potatoes – and it might be that the combination of all of these is too much for your system so try foods separately and see if you still experience gas or bloating.
Eating too much fibre in one meal can also cause the gut bacteria to create excessive gas, ‘if you’re not used to eating a lot of fibre, it’s a good idea to build up slowly – a lot of fibre in one go will cause bloating in most people,’ says Anna.
If you experience bloating regularly, you might want to look more into the idea of FODMAP sensitivity as many healthy foods can contain FODMAPS.
The MONASH Fodmap app is one of the best ways to get started with this. Or speak to a specialist digestive dietitian or nutritionist like Anna who can help balance your FODMAP intake.
As you can see, there’s lot of different elements in food that might trigger bloating and if you want to explore this more, have a look at our post on reasons why you might bloat after eating.
Chew Things Well
One of the biggest causes of bloating from food in general is when the food enters the small intestine inadequately broken down by the stomach.
This means it spends longer in the digestive tract that it should, which gives more time for the bacteria to feed upon it and for fermentation and bloating to occur. ‘Chew your food really well and take your time to eat,’ says Anna.
Add Something Bitter
‘Try eating high fibre foods with bitter foods which encourages stomach acid production and lead to better digestion of your meal,’ says Anna. ‘Bitter foods include rocket and endive, or use vinegar dressing on salads.
How Long Does Bloating from Eggplant Last?
Most bloating will only last a few hours. After this the item is broken down by the bacteria and starts to move through the digestive system.
If you’re regularly getting bloating that doesn’t disappear after a few hours, then go have a quick chat to your GP to check there isn’t something else going on.
How to Reduce Gas from Eggplant
If you’re experiencing gas from eggplant and are either feeling uncomfortable, or, need to get into something with a tight waistband in the next few hours, there are a few ways to help deflate things.
‘Peppermint capsules may help some people,’ says Anna. ‘Just ensure that they are enterically coated so they reach the intestines where they do the work and don’t dissolve in the stomach. That will just give you peppermint burps.’
Try some deep breathing techniques. ‘Focus on low slow exhalations to calm the vagus nerve. This is the nervous connection between the brain and the gut and soothing it with deep breathing can help during an IBS flare up.
Gentle movement helps. Try going for a walk or do someone yoga or Pilates moves. Good poses for reducing gas include child pose or anything else that sees your hips slightly higher than your stomach.
You’ll find these, and a few other suggestions on our dedicated piece on how to release gas quickly.
So there you have it, the answers to why eggplant causes gas and bloating – and some solutions that will hopefully help reduce the effects if you experience them.
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Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.