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[L. vegetabilis, animating, able to grow]
1. Pert. to or derived from plants.
2. An herbaceous plant, esp. one cultivated for food.
3. The edible part or parts of plants that are used as food, including the leaves, stems, seeds and seed pods, flowers, roots, tubers, and fruits.
Vegetables are important sources of minerals and vitamins; provide bulk, which stimulates intestinal motility; and are sources of energy. Caloric value is indirectly proportional to water content. Copper is estimated at 1.2 mg/kg for leafy vegetables, and 0.7 mg/kg for nonleafy ones.
Plant and vegetable proteins individually do not contain the complete complement of essential amino acids. By combining vegetables, it is possible to obtain an adequate and balanced mixture of essential amino acids. For example, corn is low in lysine but has an adequate amount of tryptophan; beans are adequate in lysine but low in tryptophan. Although neither is a sufficient source of protein alone, in combination, they are an adequate protein source. Similarly rice and beans serve to complement the deficiencies in the other and together are a complete source of protein.
All starches in vegetables must be changed to sugars before they can be absorbed. Dry heat changes starch to dextrin; heat and acid or an enzyme change dextrin to dextrose. In germinating grain, starch is changed to dextrin and dextrose. Fermented dextrose produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.