In everyday usage, a vegetable is any part of a plant that is consumed by humans as food as part of a savory course or meal. The term “vegetable” is somewhat arbitrary, and largely defined through culinary and cultural traditions. It normally excludes other main types of plant food, fruits, nuts and cereal grains but includes seeds such as pulses (dry beans like pinto, kidney, navy, dry peas, lentils and others).
Vegetables can be eaten either raw or cooked and play an important role in human nutrition, being mostly low in fat and carbohydrates, but high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Particularly important are the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. When vegetables are included in the diet, there is found to be a reduction in the incidence of cancer, stroke,
cardiovascular disease and other chronic ailments.
The nutritional content of vegetables varies considerably, though generally they contain little protein or fat and varying proportions of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin B6, pro-vitamins, dietary minerals and carbohydrates. Vegetables contain a great variety of other phytochemicals, some of which have been claimed to have antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-carcinogenic properties.