Fresh Veggie Day

File:Hrushikesh kulkarni vegetables.JPGFresh Veggie Day is celebrated on June 16th of each year.  The staff at National Whatever Day was unable to discover the origin of Fresh Veggie Day.  However, that is no excuse to not enjoy fresh veggies today!

The noun vegetable means an edible plant or part of a plant, but usually excludes seeds and most sweet fruit.  This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant.

Some vegetables can be consumed raw, some may be eaten cooked, and some must be cooked in order to be edible.  Vegetables are most often cooked in savory or salty dishes.  However, a few vegetables are often used in desserts and other sweet dishes, such as rhubarb pie and carrot cake.  A number of processed food items available on the market contain vegetable ingredients and can be referred to as “vegetable derived” products.  These products may or may not maintain the nutritional integrity of the vegetable used to produce them.  Examples of vegetable-derived products are ketchup, tomato sauce, and vegetable oils.

Vegetables are eaten in a variety of ways, as part of main meals and as snacks.  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, provitamins, dietary minerals and carbohydrates.  Vegetables contain a great variety of other phytochemicals, some of which have been claimed to have antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anticarcinogenic properties.  Some vegetables also contain fiber, important for gastrointestinal function.  Vegetables contain important nutrients necessary for healthy 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 antinutrients such as a-solanine, a-chaconine, enzyme inhibitors (of cholinesterase, protease, amylase, etc.), cyanide and cyanide precursors, oxalic acid, 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 diseases and type 2 diabetes.  These may also protect against some cancers and decrease bone loss.  The potassium provided by both fruits and vegetables may hep prevent the formation of kidney stones.

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