Vegetable

Vegetables are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, energy and phytochemicals. A balanced diet rich in vegetables reduces the risk of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, various types of cancers and type 2 diabetes. (1)Boeing H, Bechthold A, Bub A, Ellinger S, Haller D, Kroke A, et al. Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases. European Journal of Nutrition. September 2012, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 637-663. Available here. (3)Ness AR, Powless JW. Fruit and Vegetables, and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review. International Journal of Epidemiology. 1997. Vol. 26, No 1. Available here. (2)Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Adv Nutr July 2012 Adv Nutr vol. 3: 506-516, 2012. Available here.

There are two definitions of vegetable: the botanic definition and the culinary definition.

Botanical definition.
A vegetable is not a botanical category such as fruit. The definition, depending on the source, varies from a general term describing a “plant”, or a more complete definition describing “a usually herbaceous plant grown for an edible part”. Some versions of the botanical definitions of vegetables also exclude the fruit part of plants. Others exclude cereal grains, nuts, seeds, tea, coffee, cacao, herbs and spices. (4)Smith SA, Campbell DR, Elmer PJ, Martini MC, Slavin JL, Potter JD. The University of Minneasota Cancer Prevention Research Unit vegetable and fruit classification scheme. Cancer causes and control 1995, 6, 292-302. Available here. (5)Vegetable production training manual. Asian vegetable research and development center. 1990. Available here.

Culinary definition

The culinary definition is dictated by a culinary custom rather by basing it on its anatomy. It considers the edible parts of plants, including stems, leaves, stalks, roots, tubers, bulbs, flowers and fruit. Depending on the country, it also includes mushrooms, seaweed and corn. Some countries consider corn to be cereals/grains. (6)Smith SA, Campbell DR, Elmer PJ, Martini MC, Slavin JL, Potter JD. The University of Minneasota Cancer Prevention Research Unit vegetable and fruit classification scheme. Cancer causes and control 1995, 6, 292-302. Available here. (7)International Agency for Research on Cancer. WHO. Definitions And Classifications For Fruit And Vegetables. Available here.

Sometimes the botanical definition enters the culinary discussions and we hear arguments that tomatoes or avocadoes are fruit. From a culinary sense, these are considered vegetables since they are not as sweet as culinary fruit.

Some vegetables may be sweeter than others. For example, some tomato varieties can be sweeter, but since most are not they are used in the kitchen as vegetables.
Avocado is used in some parts of the world (e.g. some parts of Brazil) in desserts, mixed with sugar or made into a sweet smoothie, like in Morocco, but it is still considered as a vegetable in most countries.

References   [ + ]

1. Boeing H, Bechthold A, Bub A, Ellinger S, Haller D, Kroke A, et al. Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases. European Journal of Nutrition. September 2012, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 637-663. Available here.
2. Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Adv Nutr July 2012 Adv Nutr vol. 3: 506-516, 2012. Available here.
3. Ness AR, Powless JW. Fruit and Vegetables, and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review. International Journal of Epidemiology. 1997. Vol. 26, No 1. Available here.
4. Smith SA, Campbell DR, Elmer PJ, Martini MC, Slavin JL, Potter JD. The University of Minneasota Cancer Prevention Research Unit vegetable and fruit classification scheme. Cancer causes and control 1995, 6, 292-302. Available here.
5. Vegetable production training manual. Asian vegetable research and development center. 1990. Available here.
6. Smith SA, Campbell DR, Elmer PJ, Martini MC, Slavin JL, Potter JD. The University of Minneasota Cancer Prevention Research Unit vegetable and fruit classification scheme. Cancer causes and control 1995, 6, 292-302. Available here.
7. International Agency for Research on Cancer. WHO. Definitions And Classifications For Fruit And Vegetables. Available here.

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