We explain what vegetables are and what their properties are. Also, how do they differ from vegetables and legumes.

There are different types of vegetables, depending on what their edible part is.

What are vegetables?

Vegetables are a type of food of plant origin, that is, a type of plant edible, whose characteristic feature tends to be the presence of green color, in its stems, leaves or inflorescences. They are more or less equivalent to vegetables and vegetables, but not to fruits, since the latter have a characteristic sweet or sour taste, which vegetables lack. That is why we often talk about “fruits and vegetables”.

It is important to understand that vegetable It is a term of popular origin, which has no real scientific basis. It comes from the Latin viridis, a word from which the name of the color green, predominant (but not exclusive) in this group of foods, also comes.

Vegetables have an important presence in the life and the culture: The Mediterranean diet includes a wide selection of vegetables, and most of the recommended nutritional regimens have a large presence of vegetables as a source of fiber and vitamins and antioxidants.

There are different types of vegetables, depending on what their edible part is:

  • Leafy vegetables, such as cabbage, Swiss chard, or spinach.
  • Stem vegetables, such as leeks, celery, or asparagus.
  • Flower or inflorescence vegetables, such as artichokes, broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Fruit vegetables, such as aubergine, zucchini, cucumber or pepper.
  • Bulb vegetables, such as garlic, onions, or beets.
  • Seed vegetables, such as peas, beans or soybeans.
  • Root vegetables, such as turnips, radishes, carrots, or manioc (cassava).
  • Tuber vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, or yams.
  • Rhizome vegetables, such as ginger.

Differences between vegetables, vegetables and legumes

The terms vegetable, vegetable and legume are often used interchangeably, because in all cases they are edible vegetables. However, there are certain key features to differentiate these three terms.

In the first place, vegetables are those foods of plant origin grown in orchards or irrigated land. In fact, the origin of the word goes back to the Latin hortus ("vegetable patch"). So when we talk about vegetables, we are referring to a category of vegetables that contains both vegetables and legumes. In other words, vegetables are classified into vegetables and legumes.

Therefore, vegetables are those vegetables in which the green color predominates, either in the leaves, stems or in other parts of the plant. This does not mean that the portion we consume must necessarily be green: of garlic, for example, we consume the final bulb, but the plant has long green leaves.

On the other hand, legumes are vegetables, and they are the fruit or seeds of leguminous plants, whose characteristic feature is that they are produced inside a tender and elongated envelope called sheath. Such is the case of beans or peas.

properties of vegetables

Despite their great diversity, vegetables have a set of important common traits, such as:

  • In them the green color predominates, due to the chlorophyll of their plants, but at the same time their edible portions can have a very different pigmentation, which reflects their content of organic substances. For example, the orange or yellow color of some vegetables reveals the presence of beta-carotene, while the red and blue color indicates the presence of anthocyanin.
  • They present an important contribution in terms of fiber, minerals and vitamins, with a very low content of proteins Y lipids, and a variable amount of carbohydrates. Its main vitamins are A (in yellow or red vegetables) and C (in mostly green vegetables).
  • There are more than 20,000 species, coming from all continents of the planet (except Antarctica). 20% of the total of these species represents 90% of the food consumed by the population. humanity.
  • Their high content of vitamins and minerals (such as potassium, iron, magnesium and fluoride) makes them important allies for disease prevention and for weight loss or heart protection diets.

importance of vegetables

Vegetables have accompanied humanity since the beginning of civilization.

Vegetables are a fundamental food in the human diet. Its inclusion in the regular diet provides large amounts of nutrients and natural fiber, which improves digestive processes and guarantees the body the nutritional diversity necessary to have a healthy diet.

Vegetables have accompanied humanity since the beginning of civilization, and were the first foods to be consumed. For example: olives and figs in the Mediterranean or tomatoes and cassava in most American pre-Columbian cultures.

Growing and harvesting vegetables

Vegetables, as vegetables, are vegetable foods grown in orchards, irrigated land and other forms of cultivation, either with massive agro-industrial methods, or in small-scale orchards intended for family subsistence. Their diversity of crops is due to the fact that they are not only basic foods in most human diets, but can also be incorporated into the preparation of other dishes, such as meat, fish and soups, among many others.

Most vegetables are annuals and biennials, that is, they are harvested a year or two after sowing, but a few species are perennial. In the warm intertropical zones, its cultivation is determined by the pattern of the rainy, while in temperate zones it is determined by the heat and the duration of the light of the day

On the other hand, the vegetables are harvested following specific time patterns, since by separating them from the rest of the plant (or separating the plant from the soil) the vegetables continue to lose water through natural transpiration, so They tend to dry out and mature. Potatoes, for example, benefit from a short ripening period in a warm, humid environment, while other types of vegetables require a more immediate move to the consumer.

Major vegetable producing countries

Country Volume of vegetables produced (in thousands of tons)
China 539.993
India 100.045
USA 35.609
Turkey 25.901
Iran 19.995
Egypt 19.487
Italy 14.201
Russia 13.283
Spain 12.679
Mexico 12.515
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