Vegetables: Classification & Nutrition

Vegetables are plants or plant parts that are used as food. The term vegetables has through usage come to apply in a more narrow sense to those plant parts then are served raw or cooked as a part of main course of a meal.

Vegetables supply many nutrients besides providing variety to the diet. They make food more attractive by their colour, texture and flavour. Mostly people do not eat all vegetables or eat in less quantities because they are expensive. So, vegetables are low in daily diet.

Many people lack knowledge about the importance of vegetables. One of the reason for the ignorance of all vegetables in daily diet is unavailability in all seasons and in particular place. As they are perishable, when storage facilities are not available consumption is decreased.

Various parts of plants are used as food and various parts of plant vary in their composition like water, proteins, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrate content.


Vegetables are classified by the parts of plants consumed or the colour of the vegetable or by their nutritive value. Nutritionally they are classified into three groups.

  • Green-Leafy Vegetables
  • Roots And Tubers
  • Other Vegetables

Botanical Classification Of Vegetables

RootsCarrots, beet root, radish,turnip,colacasia
TubersPotatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca
BulbOnion, garlic, leeks
LeavesCabbage, lettuce, spinach, amaranth, fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, mint leaves
FlowersPlantain flower, cauliflower, neem flower, broccoli
FruitsTomatoes, brinjal, ladies finger, pumpkin, cucumber, ash gourd, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, capsicum, drumstick, plantain
LegumesPeas, beans, chawli, broad beans, french beans, double beans, bengal gram tender, redgram tender
Stems Plantain stem, ginger, amaranth stem, celary stem, lotus
Seed SproutsGreen gram, bengal gram, soya bean sprouts

Composition And Nutritive Value

Green-Leafy Vegetables:

Leaves are low in carbohydrates and energy but they are good source of beta-carotene, calcium, riboflavin, folic acid, ascorbic acid, iron and vitamin K.

Generally green leafy vegetables are good source of vitamins and minerals. They also contain carotenoids which are converted into vit-A.

Among all colocasia leaves contain highest amounts of carotene and cabbage has least because it is white in colour. These leafy vegetables are having antioxidants because of beta-carotene.

Green are very good source of B-vitamins mostly riboflavin and folic acid.Drying and withering of leaves reduce B-vitamins.

These leaves also contain vit-C and used as substitute for fruits if needed. Agathi, drumstick leaves and coriander leaves contribute to vit-C and discarded leaves like cauliflower leaves and beetroot leaves and mint, mayalu(red bachali) are good source of iron.

Agathi, colocasia leaves,drumstick leaves and fenugreek leaves contribute calcium in our diet. Due to presence of oxalic acid calcium and iron availability is limited.

Greens are not good source of protein, fats and carbohydrates but high in moisture content, so that energy value is not contributed.

Leafy vegetables are good fibre, helps in preventing degenerative diseases.

Roots And Tubers:

Roots and tubers are high in energy source than vegetables because they contain starch. Carrots contain high amount of carotene but not high compared to green leafy vegetables. Roots and tubers are fairly good source of vitamin C. They are poor in vitamin C, calcium and iron, protein.

Other Vegetables:

They contain high amount of moisture so they are highly perishable. They are poor in all nutrients, but good source of vit-C, fibre. Plantain green contains high amounts if iron. Capsicum contain vitamin C.

Antioxidant Activity:

Red cabbage, ladies finger and broad beans have good antioxidant activity. Roots and tubers except beetroot are not good source of antioxidants.