Biologically, a fruit is a ripened ovary, that will eventually produce an offspring; vegetables on the other hand, may or may not do so. Informally, a vegetable is an edible part of any plant that is traditionally used for culinary purposes.
Vegetables are a part of herbaceous plants that are fit for human consumption. The nutritional value of vegetables defines the presence of those essential substances that are important to support life. Scientists categorize vegetables into nutraceuticals because it is a blend of nutrition and pharmaceutical. Certain chemical substances present in vegetables have rich medicinal value.
Stem, leaves, roots, and flowers, practically every possible part of some or the other plant is used by human beings as a form of nutrition. It’s a widely known fact that a balanced diet with abundant vegetables is the key to staying healthy. While different vegetables are high on different forms of nutrition, some of them, like broccoli, are high on almost all scales – if only something a little tastier had those advantages! The table below lists approximate nutrition values for some commonly used vegetables.
|Nutritional Value – Vegetables|
|Vegetables||Energy||Energy from fat||Protein||Fat||Carbohydrates||Fiber||Sugar|
Vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals as well. Eating the right kind of vegetables regularly will help you meet your daily requirements of the same. Vegetables packed with some common vitamins and minerals are listed below.
|Vegetables High in Vitamin A|
|Red Pepper||Sweet Potatoes||Carrots||Butternut Squash||Lettuce||Tomato|
|Asparagus||Basil||Mustard Greens||Spinach||Turnip Greens||Winter Squash|
|Vegetables High in Vitamin C|
|Kale||Mustard Greens||Water Cress||Broccoli||Cauliflower||Brussels Sprouts|
|Vegetables High in Folate (B9)|
|Asparagus||Broccoli||Collard Greens||Endive||Lentils||Lima Beans|
|Vegetables High in Calcium|
|Collard Greens||Kale||Turnip Greens||Arugula||Rapini||Okra|
|Vegetables High in Iron|
|Soybean||Chickpea||Artichoke||Sweet Potato||Turnip Greens||Kale|
Nutritional Value of Leaf Vegetables
Some common plant leaves we eat as vegetables are spinach, cabbage, turnip greens etc. These vegetables are rich in protein, fibers, and minerals like iron and calcium to our body. They also give us phytonutrients, like carotenoids, Vitamin C, K, and folic acid. The fat content of these vegetables are very low. So if you are on a weight loss regime, leafy vegetables are ideal for your diet.
The main cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Spinach is rich in iron content and may help in eliminating the root cause of anemia. Cabbage gives us the proteins that help in muscle building. Fiber present in cabbage aids in the process of removing toxins from our body. A variety of phytochemicals that are present in leafy vegetables protect our body cells from external damage. Vitamin A is responsible for dealing with problems that are related to eyesight. Presence of Vitamin K in leafy vegetables can regulate clotting of blood and keep our bones healthy.
Nutritional Value of Inflorescent Vegetables
Inflorescent vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, etc. As the name suggests, they belong to the flower-bearing part of the plant. These types of vegetables are rich in Vitamin C, dietary fiber, calcium, etc. These vegetables supply us with a component called sulforaphane; it is an anticancer and anti-diabetic compound. The fat content of inflorescent vegetables is low.
Calcium content in broccoli is equivalent to that in the milk. Calcium contributes to healthy bones and strong teeth. It also plays a major role in keeping our heart muscles healthy. It also assists in various other physical functions of the body, like regulation of heartbeat and nerve-related functions. Fiber present in broccoli is soluble in water and is good for diabetic patients. Cauliflower has a high nutrient density. It contains folate or Vitamin B9. This vitamin can cause rapid growth in our body cells and is required for the production of healthy red blood cells, thus preventing anemia. Cauliflower activates certain enzymes in our body that can slowdown or prevent growth of cancer. Dietary fiber of these vegetables is necessary for proper digestion of our food, and it also helps to cure disorders of the large intestine.
Nutritional Value of Legumes
Peas, beans, etc., are some of the fruits of legume plants. Legumes have all the valuable nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and useful minerals, like iron, potassium, calcium, etc. They have a very high fiber content.
Beans are considered as a suitable substitute to meat for vegans. Essential proteins of beans are similar to that in meat. It also has the highest fiber content. Peas have a very high content of Vitamin A and Vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is often referred to as an anti-neuritic as it helps to prevent ailments related to the nervous system.
Nutritional Value of Orange/Red Vegetables
Some examples of orange/red vegetables are tomato, carrot, beet, etc. These vegetables provide antioxidants, phytochemicals, roughage, and various useful minerals to our body.
Carrots are orange in color due to the presence of beta-carotene. This beta-carotene yields vitamin A in our body which helps to prevent night blindness. A key component of tomato is lycopene which acts as an antioxidant. Tomato is good for our heart and also rich in Vitamin A and C. The deep-red color of beet is because of betacyanin – an antioxidant. It is also a good source of vitamins, like Vitamin B (complex) and various trace nutrients, like iron, potassium, sodium, etc. Beet is helpful in the renewal of immunity cells and purification of blood. Antioxidants present in these vegetables is vital for maintaining good health and prevents diseases, like cancer and coronary heart diseases. It also ensures protection of our skin from harmful UV radiations coming from the sun.
According to health experts, people who include plenty of vegetables in their diet are more energetic, and they do not get tired very easily. Knowing what we eat is essential as it helps up plan a better diet; one that meets our body’s different requirements. A diet rich in fresh vegetables ensures smooth functioning of all bodily processes. Not only this, a pro-vegetable diet helps counter weight management problems as well!