The noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

 vegetable usually means an edible
Eating is the ingestion of food to provide for all organisms their nutritional needs, particularly for energy and growth. Animals and other heterotrophs must eat in order to survive: carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, omnivores consume a mixture of both plant and animal matter,...

 plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 or seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant.

However, the word is not scientific
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, and its meaning is largely based on culinary
Culinary art
Culinary art is the art of preparing and cooking foods. The word "culinary" is defined as something related to, or connected with, cooking. A culinarion is a person working in the culinary arts. A culinarian working in restaurants is commonly known as a cook or a chef. Culinary artists are...

 and cultural
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 tradition. Therefore, the application of the word is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. For example, some people consider mushroom
A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. The standard for the name "mushroom" is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus; hence the word "mushroom" is most often applied to those fungi that...

s to be vegetables even though they are not plants, while others consider them a separate food category.

Some vegetables can be consumed raw, some may be eaten cooked
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

, and some must be cooked in order to be edible. Vegetables are most often cooked in savory
Umami , popularly referred to as savoriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.-Etymology:Umami is a loanword from the Japanese meaning "pleasant savory taste". This particular writing was chosen by Professor Kikunae Ikeda from umai "delicious" and mi ...

 or salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

y dishes. However, a few vegetables are often used in dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

s and other sweet dishes, such as rhubarb pie
Rhubarb pie
Rhubarb pie is a pie which is particularly popular in those areas where the rhubarb plant is commonly cultivated, including Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the New England and Upper Midwestern regions of the United States. Besides diced rhubarb, it almost always contains a large amount of...

 and carrot cake
Carrot cake
Carrot cake is a cake which consists of grated carrots mixed with batter. The carrot softens in the cooking process, and the cake usually has a soft, dense texture...


As an adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

, the word vegetable is used in scientific and technical contexts with a different and much broader meaning, namely of "related to plants" in general, edible or not — as in vegetable matter, vegetable kingdom, vegetable origin, etc. The meaning of "vegetable" as "plant grown for food" was not established until the 18th century.


"Vegetable" comes from the Latin vegetabilis (animated) and from vegetare (enliven), which is derived from vegetus (active), in reference to the process of a plant growing. This in turn derives from the Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 base *weg- or *wog-, which is also the source of the English wake, meaning "become (or stay) alert".

The word "vegetable" was first recorded in English in the 15th century, but applied to any plant. This is still the sense of the adjective "vegetable" in science. The related term vegetation
Vegetation is a general term for the plant life of a region; it refers to the ground cover provided by plants. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader...

 also has a similarly broad scope. Likewise in the all-purpose question, "Animal, vegetable, or mineral?"


There are at least four definitions relating to fruits and vegetables:
  • Fruit (scientific): the ovary of a seed-bearing plant,
  • Fruit (culinary): any edible part of a plant with a sweet flavor,
  • Vegetable: any edible part of a plant with a savory flavor.
  • Vegetable (legal): commodities that are taxed as vegetables in a particular jurisdiction

In everyday, grocery-store, culinary language, the words "fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

" and "vegetable" are mutually exclusive; plant products that are called fruit are hardly ever classified as vegetables, and vice-versa. For scientists, the word "fruit" has a precise botanical
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 meaning (a part that developed from the ovary
Ovary (plants)
In the flowering plants, an ovary is a part of the female reproductive organ of the flower or gynoecium. Specifically, it is the part of the pistil which holds the ovule and is located above or below or at the point of connection with the base of the petals and sepals...

 of a flowering plant), which is considerably different from its common meaning, and includes many poisonous fruits. While peach
The peach tree is a deciduous tree growing to tall and 6 in. in diameter, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach...

es, plum
A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in the genus Prunus, subgenus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera in the shoots having a terminal bud and solitary side buds , the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one...

s, and orange
Orange (fruit)
An orange—specifically, the sweet orange—is the citrus Citrus × sinensis and its fruit. It is the most commonly grown tree fruit in the world....

s are "fruit" in both senses, many items commonly called "vegetables" — such as eggplants, bell pepper
Bell pepper
Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or a pepper and capsicum , is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum . Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange and green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as...

s, and tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

es — are technically fruits, while the cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

s (grains) are both a fruit and a vegetable, as well as some spices like black pepper
Black pepper
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed...

 and chillies. Some plant products, such as corn
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 or peas
P.E.A.S. is an acronym in artificial intelligence that stands for Performance, Environment, Actuators, Sensors.-Performance:Performance is a function that measures the quality of the actions the agent did....

, may be considered to be vegetables only while still unripe.

The question of whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable found its way into the United States Supreme Court in 1893. The court ruled unanimously in Nix v. Hedden
Nix v. Hedden
Nix v. Hedden, , was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that affirmed the lower court ruling that the tomato should be classified under customs regulations as a vegetable rather than a fruit...

that a tomato is correctly identified as, and thus taxed as, a vegetable, for the purposes of the Tariff of 1883
Tariff of 1883
In United States tax law history, the Tariff of 1883 , also known as the Mongrel Tariff Act by its critics, reduced high tariff rates only marginally, and left in place fairly strong protectionist barriers....

 on imported produce. The court did acknowledge, however, that, botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit.

Languages other than English often have categories that can be identified with the common English meanings of "fruit" and "vegetable", but their precise meaning often depends on local culinary traditions. For example, in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 the avocado
The avocado is a tree native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel...

 is traditionally consumed with sugar as a dessert or in milkshakes, and hence it is regarded as a fruit; whereas in other countries (including Mexico and the United States) it is used in salads and dips, and hence considered to be a vegetable.

Examples of different parts of plants used as vegetables

The list of food items called "vegetable" is quite long, and includes many different parts of plants:

  • Flower bud
Broccoli is a plant in the cabbage family, whose large flower head is used as a vegetable.-General:The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of , refers to "the flowering top of a cabbage"....

, cauliflower
Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed...

, globe artichoke
Globe artichoke
The globe artichoke is a perennial thistle of the Cynara genus originating in Southern Europe around the Mediterranean. It grows to tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery, glaucous-green leaves long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about diameter with numerous...

  • Seeds
Sweet corn
Corn is the name used in the United States, Canada, and Australia for the grain maize.In much of the English-speaking world, the term "corn" is a generic term for cereal crops, such as* Barley* Oats* Wheat* Rye- Places :...

 (maize), peas, beans
  • Leaves
    Leaf vegetable
    Leaf vegetables, also called potherbs, green vegetables, greens, leafy greens or salad greens, are plant leaves eaten as a vegetable, sometimes accompanied by tender petioles and shoots...

Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane , a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming,...

, collard greens
Collard greens
Collard greens are various loose-leafed cultivars of Brassica oleracea , the same species as cabbage and broccoli. The plant is grown for its large, dark-colored, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro,...

, spinach
Spinach is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant , which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions...

, arugula
Eruca sativa , is an edible annual plant, commonly known as rocket, roquette, rucola or arugula, not to be confused with Wild rocket. It is a species of Eruca native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal east to Lebanon and Turkey...

, beet greens, bok choy, chard, choi sum, turnip greens, endive
Endive , Cichorium endivia, is a leaf vegetable belonging to the daisy family. Endive can be cooked or used raw in salads.-Background:Endive is also a common name for some types of chicory...

, lettuce
Lettuce is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae. It is most often grown as a leaf vegetable. It is eaten either raw, notably in salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, tacos, and many other dishes, or cooked, as in Chinese cuisine in which the stem becomes just as important...

, mustard greens, watercress
Watercresses are fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plants native from Europe to central Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings...

, garlic chives, gai lan
  • Leaf sheaths
The leek, Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum , also sometimes known as Allium porrum, is a vegetable which belongs, along with the onion and garlic, to family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Allioideae...

  • Bud
    In botany, a bud is an undeveloped or embryonic shoot and normally occurs in the axil of a leaf or at the tip of the stem. Once formed, a bud may remain for some time in a dormant condition, or it may form a shoot immediately. Buds may be specialized to develop flowers or short shoots, or may have...

Brussels sprout
Brussels sprout
The Brussels sprout is a cultivar of wild cabbage grown for its edible buds. The leafy green vegetables are typically 2.5–4 cm in diameter and look like miniature cabbages. The sprout is Brassica oleracea, in the "gemmifera" group of the family Brassicaceae...

s, capers
  • Stem
    Plant stem
    A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

  • Stems of leaves
    Petiole (botany)
    In botany, the petiole is the stalk attaching the leaf blade to the stem. The petiole usually has the same internal structure as the stem. Outgrowths appearing on each side of the petiole are called stipules. Leaves lacking a petiole are called sessile, or clasping when they partly surround the...

Apium graveolens is a plant species in the family Apiaceae commonly known as celery or celeriac , depending on whether the petioles or roots are eaten: celery refers to the former and celeriac to the latter. Apium graveolens grows to 1 m tall...

, rhubarb
Rhubarb is a group of plants that belong to the genus Rheum in the family Polygonaceae. They are herbaceous perennial plants growing from short, thick rhizomes. They have large leaves that are somewhat triangular-shaped with long fleshy petioles...

, cardoon
The cardoon , also called the artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni or cardi, is a thistle-like plant in the aster family Asteraceae. It is the naturally occurring form of the same species as the globe artichoke, and has many cultivated varieties...

, Chinese celery, and lemon grass
  • Stem shoots
    Plant stem
    A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennialplant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and...

, bamboo shoot
Bamboo shoot
Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths...

s, galangal
Galangal is a rhizome of plants of the genus Alpinia or Kaempferia in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, with culinary and medicinal uses originated from Indonesia...

, and ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

  • Tuber
    Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

es, Jerusalem artichoke
Jerusalem artichoke
The Jerusalem artichoke , also called the sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from Eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas...

s, sweet potato
Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of...

es, taro
Taro is a common name for the corms and tubers of several plants in the family Araceae . Of these, Colocasia esculenta is the most widely cultivated, and is the subject of this article. More specifically, this article describes the 'dasheen' form of taro; another variety is called eddoe.Taro is...

, and yam
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

  • Whole-plant sprouts
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

or is Japanese for "sprout." It is most commonly used in referring to mung bean or black matpe bean, but can also be used for the larger soybean sprout as well.Moyashi is a common ingredient in many Japanese dishes such as stir fries and soups....

), mung bean
Mung bean
The mung bean is the seed of Vigna radiata. It is native to the Indian subcontinent.-Description:They are small, ovoid in shape, and green in color...

s, urad
Urad (bean)
Vigna mungo, known as urad, urad dal, udad dal, urd bean, urd, urid, black matpe bean, black gram, black lentil [not to be confused with the much smaller true black lentil ], maas , đậu đen or white lentil, is a bean grown in southern Asia...

, and alfalfa
Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop in the US, Canada, Argentina, France, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, and many other countries. It is known as lucerne in the UK, France, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and known as...

  • Roots
    Root vegetable
    Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh...

s, parsnip
The parsnip is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most carrots and have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. The buttery, slightly spicy, sweet flavor of cooked mature parsnips is reminiscent of butterscotch, honey, and subtle cardamom...

s, beet
The beet is a plant in the Chenopodiaceae family which is now included in Amaranthaceae family. It is best known in its numerous cultivated varieties, the most well known of which is the purple root vegetable known as the beetroot or garden beet...

s, radish
The radish is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe, in pre-Roman times. They are grown and consumed throughout the world. Radishes have numerous varieties, varying in size, color and duration of required cultivation time...

es, rutabaga
The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

s, turnip
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock...

s, and burdock
Burdock is any of a group of biennial thistles in the genus Arctium, family Asteraceae. Native to the Old World, several species have been widely introduced worldwide....

  • Roots
    Root vegetable
    Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

  • Bulb
    A bulb is a short stem with fleshy leaves or leaf bases. The leaves often function as food storage organs during dormancy.A bulb's leaf bases, known as scales, generally do not support leaves, but contain food reserves to enable the plant to survive adverse conditions. At the center of the bulb is...

The onion , also known as the bulb onion, common onion and garden onion, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion The onion...

s, shallot
The shallot is the botanical variety of Allium cepa to which the multiplier onion also belongs. It was formerly classified as the species A. ascalonicum, a name now considered a synonym of the correct name...

s, garlic
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent...

  • Fruits in the botanical sense, but used as vegetables
tomatoes, cucumber
The cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. The plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical edible fruit when ripe. There are three main varieties of cucumber: "slicing", "pickling", and...

s, squash, zucchini
The zucchini is a summer squash which often grows to nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. It is a hybrid of the cucumber. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. Zucchini can be dark or light green...

s, pumpkin
A pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae . It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America...

s, peppers
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

, eggplant, tomatillo
The tomatillo is a plant of the nightshade family, related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are grown as annuals throughout the Western Hemisphere...

s, christophene, okra
Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins...

, breadfruit
Breadfruit is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry family, Moraceae, growing throughout Southeast Asia and most Pacific Ocean islands...

 and avocado
The avocado is a tree native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel...

, and also the following:
  • Legumes
green bean
Green bean
Green beans , also known as French beans , are the unripe fruit of any kind of bean, including the yardlong bean, the hyacinth bean, the winged bean, and especially the common bean , whose pods are also usually called string beans in the northeastern and western United States, but can also be...

s, lentil
The lentil is an edible pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds...

s, snow pea
Snow pea
The snow pea is a legume, more specifically a variety of pea eaten whole in its pod while still unripe...

s, oybean]

cilantro in spanish


Vegetables are eaten in a variety of ways, as part of main meals
A meal is an instance of eating, specifically one that takes place at a specific time and includes specific, prepared food.Meals occur primarily at homes, restaurants, and cafeterias, but may occur anywhere. Regular meals occur on a daily basis, typically several times a day...

 and as snacks
Snack food
A snack is a portion of food oftentimes smaller than that of a regular meal, that is generally eaten between meals. Snacks come in a variety of forms including packaged and processed foods and items made from fresh ingredients at home....

. The nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

al content of vegetables varies considerably, though generally they contain little protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 or fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

, and varying proportions of vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin B6, provitamin
A provitamin is a substance that may be converted within the body to a vitamin.The term "previtamin" is a synonym.For example, Provitamin B5 is a name for Panthenol, which may be converted in the body to Pantothenic Acid ....

s, dietary mineral
Dietary mineral
Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. Examples of mineral elements include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iodine...

s and carbohydrates. Vegetables contain a great variety of other phytochemical
Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants . Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties . For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic...

s, some of which have been claimed to have antioxidant
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

, antibacterial
Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction...

, antifungal
Antifungal drug
An antifungal medication is a medication used to treat fungal infections such as athlete's foot, ringworm, candidiasis , serious systemic infections such as cryptococcal meningitis, and others...

, antiviral
Antiviral drug
Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections. Like antibiotics for bacteria, specific antivirals are used for specific viruses...

 and anticarcinogenic properties. Some vegetables also contain fiber important for GI function. Vegetables contain important nutrients necessary for proper Hair and Skin as well. A person who refrains from dairy and meat products, and eats only plants (including vegetables) is known as a Vegan.

However, vegetables often also contain toxins and antinutrient
Antinutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Nutrition studies focus on those antinutrients commonly found in food sources and beverages....

s such as α-solanine
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family , such as the potato . It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. Solanine has fungicidal and pesticidal properties, and it is one of the plant's natural defenses...

, α-chaconine
α-Chaconine is a steroidal glycoalkaloid chemical compound that occurs in plants of the Solanaceae family. It is a natural toxicant produced in green potatoes and gives the potato a bitter taste. Tubers produce this glycoalkaloid in response to stress, providing the plant with insecticidal and...

, enzyme inhibitor
Enzyme inhibitor
An enzyme inhibitor is a molecule that binds to enzymes and decreases their activity. Since blocking an enzyme's activity can kill a pathogen or correct a metabolic imbalance, many drugs are enzyme inhibitors. They are also used as herbicides and pesticides...

s (of cholinesterase
In biochemistry, cholinesterase is a family of enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine into choline and acetic acid, a reaction necessary to allow a cholinergic neuron to return to its resting state after activation.-Types:...

, protease
A protease is any enzyme that conducts proteolysis, that is, begins protein catabolism by hydrolysis of the peptide bonds that link amino acids together in the polypeptide chain forming the protein....

, amylase
Amylase is an enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of starch into sugars. Amylase is present in human saliva, where it begins the chemical process of digestion. Food that contains much starch but little sugar, such as rice and potato, taste slightly sweet as they are chewed because amylase turns...

, etc.), cyanide
A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

 and cyanide precursors
Linamarin is a cyanogenic glucoside found in the leaves and roots of plants such as cassava, lima beans, and flax. It is a glucoside of acetone cyanohydrin...

, oxalic acid
Oxalic acid
Oxalic acid is an organic compound with the formula H2C2O4. This colourless solid is a dicarboxylic acid. In terms of acid strength, it is about 3,000 times stronger than acetic acid. Oxalic acid is a reducing agent and its conjugate base, known as oxalate , is a chelating agent for metal cations...

, and more. Depending on the concentration, such compounds may reduce the edibility, nutritional value, and health benefits of dietary vegetables. Cooking and/or other processing may be necessary to eliminate or reduce them.

Diets containing recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables may help lower the risk of heart disease
Heart disease
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...

s and type 2 diabetes. These diets may also protect against some cancers and decrease bone loss. The potassium provided by both fruits and vegetables may help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Color pigments

The green color of leafy vegetables is due to the presence of the green pigment
A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.Many materials selectively absorb...

Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in almost all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. Its name is derived from the Greek words χλωρος, chloros and φύλλον, phyllon . Chlorophyll is an extremely important biomolecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to obtain energy from light...

. Chlorophyll is affected by the pH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

, and it changes to olive green in acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

 conditions, and to bright green in alkaline conditions. Some of the acids are released in steam
Steaming is a method of cooking using steam. Steaming is considered a healthy cooking technique and capable of cooking almost all kinds of food.-Method:...

 during cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

, particularly if cooked without a cover.

The yellow/orange
Orange (colour)
The colour orange occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum at a wavelength of about 585–620 nm, and has a hue of 30° in HSV colour space. It is numerically halfway between red and yellow in a gamma-compressed RGB colour space, the expression of which is the RGB colour wheel. The...

 colors of fruits and vegetables are due to the presence of carotenoids, which are also affected by normal cooking processes or changes in pH.

The red/blue coloring of some fruits and vegetables (e.g. blackberries and red cabbage
Red Cabbage
The red cabbage is a sort of cabbage, also known as Red Kraut or Blue Kraut after preparation....

) are due to anthocyanins, which are sensitive to changes in pH. When the pH is neutral, the pigments are purple
Purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue, and is classified as a secondary color as the colors are required to create the shade....

, when acidic, red, and when alkaline, blue. These pigments are quite water-soluble.

Cultivation and export

Of all the world's nations, China is the leading cultivator of vegetables, with top productions in potato, onions, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli.


For food safety
Food safety
Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards....

, the CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

 recommends proper fruit handling and preparation to reduce the risk of food contamination and foodborne illness
Foodborne illness
Foodborne illness is any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as chemical or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms.-Causes:Foodborne illness usually arises from improper handling, preparation, or...

. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be carefully selected. At the store, they should not be damaged or bruised and pre-cut pieces should be refrigerated or surrounded by ice. All fruits and vegetables should be rinsed before eating. This recommendation also applies to produce with rinds or skins that are not eaten. It should be done just before preparing or eating to avoid premature spoilage. Fruits and vegetables should be kept separate from raw foods like meat, poultry, and seafood, as well as any cooking utensils or surfaces that may have come into contact with them (e.g. cutting boards). Fruits and vegetables, if they are not going to be cooked, should be thrown away if they have touched raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. All cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated within 2 hours. After a certain time, harmful bacteria may grow on them and increase the risk of foodborne illness.


Proper post-harvest storage aimed at extending and ensuring shelf life is best effected by efficient cold chain
Cold chain
A cold chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain. An unbroken cold chain is an uninterrupted series of storage and distribution activities which maintain a given temperature range...

 application. All vegetables benefit from proper post harvest care.

Many root
Root vegetable
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

 and non-root vegetables that grow underground can be stored through winter in a root cellar
Root cellar
A root cellar is a structure built underground or partially underground and used to store vegetables, fruits, and nuts or other foods.-Construction:Common construction methods are:...

 or other similarly cool, dark, and dry place to prevent the growth of mold
Molds are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. Molds are not considered to be microbes but microscopic fungi that grow as single cells called yeasts...

, greening and sprouting
Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds to be eaten either raw or cooked.They are a convenient way to have fresh vegetables for salads, or otherwise, in any season and can be germinated at home or produced industrially...

. Care should be taken in understanding the properties and vulnerabilities of the particular roots to be stored. These vegetables can last through to early spring and be nearly as nutritious
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

 as when fresh.

During storage, leafy vegetables lose moisture
Humidity is the amount of moisture the air can hold before it rains. Moisture refers to the presence of a liquid, especially water, often in trace amounts...

, and the vitamin C in them degrades rapidly. They should be stored for as short a time as possible in a cool place, in a sealed container or a plastic bag
Plastic bag
A plastic bag, polybag, or pouch is a type of packaging made of thin, flexible, plastic film, nonwoven fabric, or plastic textile. Plastic bags are used for containing and transporting goods such as foods, produce, powders, ice, magazines, comic books, chemicals and waste.Most plastic bags are...



There is a series of ISO
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

 standards regarding fruits and vegetables.

See also

  • Food quality
    Food quality
    Food quality is the quality characteristics of food that is acceptable to consumers. This includes external factors as appearance , texture, and flavour; factors such as federal grade standards and internal .Food quality in the United States is enforced by the Food Safety Act 1990...

  • Food safety
    Food safety
    Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards....

  • Fruit
    In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

  • List of vegetables
  • Perennial vegetable
    Perennial vegetable
    Perennial vegetables are parts of plants that are prepared and eaten like a vegetable, and that are also perennial, in other words, the plants live for more than two years....

  • Vegetarianism
    Vegetarianism encompasses the practice of following plant-based diets , with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs, and with the exclusion of meat...

  • Veganism
    Veganism is the practice of eliminating the use of animal products. Ethical vegans reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose, while dietary vegans or strict vegetarians eliminate them from their diet only...

  • Vegetable disease
  • Herbivore
    Herbivores are organisms that are anatomically and physiologically adapted to eat plant-based foods. Herbivory is a form of consumption in which an organism principally eats autotrophs such as plants, algae and photosynthesizing bacteria. More generally, organisms that feed on autotrophs in...

  • Market gardening
    Market gardening
    A market garden is the relatively small-scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers as cash crops, frequently sold directly to consumers and restaurants. It is distinguishable from other types of farming by the diversity of crops grown on a small area of land, typically, from under one acre ...

  • Vegetable carving
    Vegetable carving
    Vegetable carving is the art of carving vegetables to form beautiful objects, such as flowers or birds.-The origins of vegetable carving:The origins of vegetable carving are disputed: many people believe it to have begun in Sukothai, Thailand 700 years ago, while others believe that vegetable...

  • Post-harvest losses (Fruit and vegetables)
    Post-harvest losses (fruit and vegetables)
    For a discussion of grain losses, see: Post-harvest losses The post-harvest sector includes all points in the value chain from production in the field to the food being placed on a plate for consumption. Postharvest activities include harvesting, handling, storage, processing, packaging,...

Further reading

External links

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