The term applied to the many varieties of garden plants used for food. Vegetables along
with rice have long served as a staple of the human diet.
The most important improvements in a number of vegetable varieties are actually quite
recent and are largely attributable to the discovery of the principles of genetic
trails as elaborated by Darwin and Mendel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These
discoveries have made it possible to produce new varieties with specific crop yields and
qualities such as flavor, color and so on. Today vegetables are consumed mainly as an
accompaniment to main courses in most of the Western Hemisphere.
The consumption of vegetables has been on the rise since the mid 1970's. Scientific
research has establishing a close link between a high consumption of fruits and vegetables
and the prevention of certain diseases, have contributed to making the health benefits of
vegetables more widely known.
A simple way to classify vegetables is on the basis of the portion of the plant that is
used for food. This gives us:
- bulb vegetables-such as garlic, scallion, chive, shallot, onion, and leek;
- leaf vegetables- chicory, cabbage, watercress, spinach, various types of
lettuce, nettle, sorrel, dandelion and radicchio
- inflorescent vegetables- artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower and broccoli rape.
- fruit vegetables- egg plant, avocado, chayote, cucumber, squash, okra, olive
- root vegetables- beets, burdock, carrots, eleriac, malanga, turnip, parsnip,
radish, rutabaga and salsify;
- stalk vegetables- asparagus, bamboo, chard, cardoon, celery, kohlrabi,
feddlehead fern and fennel;
- tuber vegetables- crosne, yam, jicama, manioc, sweet potato and taro.
All vegetables supply certain nutritional elements in proportions that vary depending on
the type of vegetable. However, they also share certain nutritional characteristics:
- They provide a range of vitamins and mineral, particularly vitamin A in the form of
carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and folic acid, as well as potassium, iron, magnesium and
- They have high water content (80-95% of their total composition).
- They provide soluble and insoluble fiber.
- They are low in fat, with the exception of avocados and olives
- They are generally low in protein
- Most vegetables have low calorie content, and since they are of plant origin, they
contain no cholesterol.
The outer appearance of vegetables can provide an indication of their freshness.
Look for firm undamaged and well colored vegetables that show no sign of mold, bruising,
frost damage or softness. Avoid buying fragile vegetables that look as if they have been
on the shelf for too long; peeled vegetables and vegetables with wilted leaves or
shriveled skin should also be avoided.
The manner in which vegetables are prepared, used and preserved has an effect on their
flavor, nutritional value, texture, and appearance. Like fruits, vegetables react to air
and heat and continue to ripen even after harvesting. A single hour left out at room
temperature will cause them to deteriorate twice as quickly as if they were refrigerated,
since heat speeds up their rate of maturation.
When preparing vegetables, it is important to avoid lengthy exposure to air, heat and
- Rinse the vegetables well under running water to make sure fixed residues are washed
- Avoid leaving the vegetables out at room temperature once they are ripe.
- Vegetables to be eaten raw should be prepared at the last minute using stainless-steel
- Vegetables to be cooked should be cut in evenly sized pieces to ensure uniform cooking,
the more finely chopped the vegetables the greater the loss of vitamins, minerals and
Most vegetables can be eaten raw. It is important to include raw vegetables in one's
diet, since the quality of their nutrients has not been altered by cooking. Vegetables
have an endless number of culinary uses; they work well in everything from appetizers to
desserts and are even used in wine making.
There are several methods of preserving vegetables, including refrigeration, cold
storage, freezing, canning, drying, marinating, and so. It is better to consume
vegetables immediately and keep any surplus in the refrigerator.
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