Vegetables: list, properties, nutritional values

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Robert Maurer
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La vegetables is a source of nutrients and natural fibers essential for a healthy diet. It is important to take it daily because it helps in the cure and in the prevention of numerous pathologies. Let's find out better.

> 1. Classification of vegetables and their use

> 2. Properties of vegetables

> 3. Vegetable, ally of

> 4. How to choose and eat vegetables


> 5. Did you know that


 

 

 

Classification of vegetables and their use

We often wonder if vegetables and vegetables are synonymous. By vegetable we mean the vegetable product grown in the garden and subsequently harvested. The word "vegetable", on the other hand, is a gastronomic and nutritional term that indicates a "category of vegetable" based on the parts of the plant (leaves, roots, etc.) used in the diet.

In fact, vegetables are not a homogeneous group of foods since their structure depends on the different parts of the plants:

  • some of the vegetables are roots (beetroot, carrot, celery, radish, horseradish, turnip) used in soups and salads. The only exception is horseradish which has a kind of bitter taste and is more used as a condiment, for example in horseradish sauce;
  • i bulbs (yellow and red onion, leek, garlic, shallots, chive) can be used for their taste in various dishes, usually sliced, chopped or sliced. Also onions, leeks and shallots can be used raw in salads;
  • vegetables a leaf (lettuce, radicchio, spinach, watercress, rocket salad) are often used in salads and as a garnish for dishes and in some cases, eg. in spinach, cooked;
  • between flowers or inflorescences of the vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, red cabbage) cabbages are the typical vegetables, used raw, cooked, marinated or as ingredients for different dishes, often used in salads; the other varieties are boiled or steamed;
  • vegetables a fruit (avocado, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkins and courgettes) are actually fruits in various stages of ripeness containing seeds inside them. Some seeds are edible, while the seeds of others need to be removed to be ready for use. They can be used raw and in salads, they are the basis of many sauces, soups and stews;
  • the stems and shoots (green and white asparagus, artichokes, celery, fennel, bean sprouts) have a wide range of uses. Celery and sprouts, for example, can be used raw in salads, while it is common to cook asparagus and artichokes;
  • i pods and seeds (broad beans, corn, peas, sweet peas / mangetout, rice) to be consumed are always cooked;
  • i tubers (sweet potato, potato, Jerusalem artichokes) also always cooked.

However vegetables, despite being so different, have common nutritional characteristics, with the exception of seeds and tubers.



 

Properties of vegetables

The importance of a daily and constant intake of vegetables in our diet is represented by a series of nutritional principles that these provide us such as, for example, a good source of dietary fiber. This in itself has no nutritional or energetic value but is equally very important for the regulation of various physiological functions in the body.

Fiber consists, for the most part, of complex carbohydrates not directly usable by the human body. They are divided into two large groups: some of these compounds (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin) are insoluble in water and act on the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, delaying gastric emptying, facilitating the transit of the food bolus into the intestine and the evacuation of faeces.

Instead other compounds (pectins, gums and mucilages) are soluble in water - in which they form resistant gels that line the walls of the intestine - and regulate the absorption of some nutrients (for example sugars and fats) by reducing and slowing them, thus contributing to the control of the level of glucose and cholesterol in the blood.

Vegetables provide important vitamins and minerals: for example, tomato provides vitamin C, carrot and green leafy vegetables pro-vitamin A. It should also be remembered folates, vitamins in which leafy vegetables are rich which, together with the B vitamins, can contribute to reduce the level of homocysteine ​​in the blood, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

They are also an important source of mineral salts (green leafy vegetables are rich in calcium and iron, potatoes and tomatoes in potassium) even if the absorption of the latter is generally lower than that of the same minerals contained in food. of animal origin. The consumption of vegetables can also ensure a significant supply of selenium and zinc which are part of the body's antioxidant defense systems.



Other important substances provided by vegetables, although present in relatively small quantities, are components that carry out a protective action mainly of an antioxidant type, counteracting the action of free radicals, which are able to alter the structure of cell membranes and genetic material (the DNA). Among these we find carotenoids (the yellow, orange and red pigments of which vegetables are rich - due to the presence of ß-carotene - and red ones such as tomato - due to the presence of lycopene); the phenolic compounds; the tocopherols (especially in green leafy vegetables).

 

Discover the properties of vegetables by color

 

Vegetable, ally of

Dietary fiber in addition to facilitating the achievement of sense of satiety, as it helps increase the volume of food ingested and slow stomach emptying, it seems capable of reduce the risk of developing certain diseases of the intestine (such as diverticulosis of the colon) and veins (such as varicose veins), as well as of important chronic-degenerative diseases, such as in particular colorectal cancers (probably due to the dilution of any carcinogenic substances, for the reduction of their contact time with the intestinal mucosa and for other mechanisms still to be clarified), the diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (probably by regulating blood glucose and cholesterol levels).

Some antioxidants contained in vegetables have been studied in relation to their potential preventive effects against cancer. For example, different classes of sulfur compounds (isothiocyanates and dithi-cultures of which the vegetables of the cruciferous family are rich such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage; the allyl sulfides of which garlic is rich) facilitate at the cellular level the elimination of carcinogenic substances. Isoflavones and phytoestrogens appear to inhibit the growth of some cancer cells.



 

How to choose and consume vegetables

Being responsible consumers means recognizing, buying, consuming and storing vegetables in the most appropriate way and respecting their precious nutritional properties.

A first aspect is to choose seasonal vegetables (rich in all the nutritional characteristics) paying attention also to local products, perhaps by stocking up on the markets managed directly by the farmers. It can be a healthy and balanced way to eat and help protect the environment, limiting, among other things, the pollution caused by the transport of goods.

Choose vegetables with labeling and traceability of supply chain which consists in the possibility of reconstructing the history of the product we are about to consume.

Recognize the category that indicate the quality of the vegetables (Extra category: vegetables of regular shape, well cleaned, free of defects; category I: whole vegetables of good quality, with a fairly regular shape, where very slight signs of damage are allowed; category II: vegetables with of inferior quality where defects due to the sun, small tears in the leaves or light bruises are allowed, irregular shape but never defects that affect its use).

For the best before date of vegetables it would be better to eat raw vegetables but not all varieties are palatable if not cooked and then prefer stewing and steaming which is one of the best ways to cook vegetables.

Finally, the storage vegetables that can be stored in the refrigerator in the fruit and vegetable compartment. The right temperature for proper storage is 4-5 ° C.

 

Did you know that

The recommended fiber intake is around 30-35 grams / day (for the child 5 grams / day plus 1 gram multiplied by the age), an amount higher than what is currently taken in the country. To reach the recommended levels, it is better to consume foods rich in fiber more often instead of resorting to "concentrated fiber" diet products since so far no studies have shown that the administration of the individual components in the form of supplements can give the same beneficial effects that are associated ingestion of vegetables.

It is believed, in fact, that these effects are mainly due to thejoint and synergistic action of multiple constituents present in the food. This action seems to disappear when these beneficial compounds are ingested individually and in a relatively concentrated form in supplements and other similar substances.

 

READ MORE
All the properties and benefits of fruit

 

Other articles on vegetables:
> The vegetables of the summer

> The vegetables of autumn

> Green leafy vegetables: the importance in nutrition

> The vegetables of winter

> The vegetables of spring

> How to store fruit and vegetables

> Vegetable juices, properties and how to make them

 

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