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by Danna Martínez

Why do vegetables have such a bad reputation? Is it its appearance? Taste? Or is it just custom not to love them? What is certain is that vegetables are part of a balanced diet, and in addition to being high in vitamins, vegetables offer a wide variety of health benefits. Vegetables were and continue to be the object of study in society; learn more about their origin and characteristics and discover some of their curiosities.

The word “vegetable” comes from the Latin vegetables and means plant, related to germinating, growing, and multiplying. The term also makes sense naming everything belonging to or about plants.

A vegetable is an organic being, which grows, has a life, and is part of the planet’s multi-media food chain base. It also has the power to transform inorganic matter into organic for the benefit of other organisms. Vegetables are crucial in Earth’s formation and life since they play an essential role in natural cycles and serve as sustenance for humans and animals.

All edible plant matter, including flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds, is commonly referred to as a vegetable. According to studies, fruits and vegetables are commonly classified by the plant’s part from which they come. Vegetables develop themselves in the plant in general except for the flower since instead of containing seeds, these consist of roots, stems, and leaves.

To learn more about vegetables, here are five of their curiosities:

  • In ancient Egypt, the onion was considered to represent eternal life because of its concentric layer structure. It is also considered that in mourning ceremonies, the pharaohs used layers of the onion to cover their eyes before being mummified.
  • Eggplant is also known as a mad apple in Italy because of the widespread belief that its regular consumption causes dementia.
  • Tomato has been a dilemma for a long time. In 1887, the United States Supreme Court approved a law that assigned taxes to imported vegetables, which included tomatoes, claiming that it was a more traditional vegetable when served as a salad or part of meals and not as a dessert; therefore, tax should be charged. However, according to its biological characteristics, the tomato is considered a fruit and not a vegetable after several studies.
  • It is believed that corn was one of the first vegetables cultivated by humans in Mexico around 10,000 years ago.
  • During the Middle Ages, some European countries used onions to pay wages. In ancient Rome, instead of onions, people used sea salt to pay salaries. Hence the root of the word “salarium” (salary).

A diet rich in vegetables can generate multiple benefits, including providing vitamins and minerals to the body, reducing blood pressure, and preventing the risk of diseases. According to the Better Health Channel, some tips for getting the most nutritional and healthier part out of fruits and vegetables include:

  • Try pureed fruits or vegetables or in smoothies.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut fresh fruit to avoid bruising.
  • Cut only the inedible parts of the vegetables; sometimes, the best nutrients are in the skin, under the skin, or in the leaves.
  • Use sauté, grill, microwave, bake, or steam methods with nonstick cookware and monounsaturated oils.
  • Do not overcook vegetables to reduce nutrient loss.

Applying healthy lifestyle habits to the lifestyle begins with small contributions such as a good diet, get to know and experiment with new dishes and foods, and take the risk of liking them.

To discover some vegetable-rich recipes, click here.