Vegetables can be described as any part of a plant that is consumed by humans as food. This is especially true when consumed as part of a savory meal.
Even though it is a loose term in culinary uses, vegetables usually exclude other plant foods that are derived from fruits and nuts and cereal grains. It, however, includes certain seeds such as pulses.
Vegetables as a Source of Food for Humans
Depending on the variety or the part of the plant they come from, they can be eaten either cooked or raw. They are low in calories, fats, and carbohydrates but come high in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and trace elements.
Vegetables can be eaten as part of every course of the dish be it starters, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts. They can also be served processed into juice and as sandwich fillings. There is no limit as to how vegetables can be prepared in meals.
Nutritional and Health Benefits
They are rich in antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They also contain vitamin B6, pro-vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates in varying amounts. Some varieties of vegetables are rich in proteins.
They are known to help in reducing the incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other chronic ailments.
Hygiene is important when handling these foods as they tend to be eaten raw. This is especially true with leafy vegetables which can carry infections on them.
Most vegetables are perishable and therefore should not be stored for long periods after harvesting. Others like potatoes and onions have longer storage lives and these can be kept long after harvest.
Generally, these vegetable food sources can be stored frozen or dried. Commercially they are canned and sold in stores. Salting and curing is also common method of storing these foods.