Sometimes we use interchangeable terms, when they really aren’t. This can lead to confusion and avoidable errors, which we can solve by learning to differentiate the correct terms each time. This would be the case for vegetables.
In spite of being terms that are commonly used indistinctly (which is a common process in several languages and is part of their natural evolution), these nouns have different meanings and it is worth knowing what makes them different. In this article we will focus on the differences between vegetables, to make them clear from now on.
What’s a vegetable?
The etymology of the word hortaliza indicates us its meaning, since it comes from huerta. Vegetables are all those vegetables that can be grown in orchards for use as food for people.. In fact, the term vegetable is used more to define the part of the plant we consume than the plant itself, although this distinction is not usually made in everyday life.
This meaning does not include elements such as fruits or cereals. (although some fruits can be grown in gardens, such as tomatoes). This adds complexity to the issue, as the limit of the very term “vegetable” is blurred. To better understand it, we can see some types of food that we consider vegetables.
1. Edible stems
We consider edible stems to be those vegetables from which we consume part of the stem, which is fatter than the rest and is usually found underground. This edible stem serves a function of feeding the rest of the plant.It is a reservoir of energy used to overcome the winter months.
The term tuber is probably more familiar to you than the term edible stem, even though they are synonyms. These edible stems also sometimes serve the function of allowing the plant to reproduce asexually, as in the case of the potato (probably the most famous tuber).
Other notable examples of tubers would be yams or sweet potatoes.also known as sweet potato in some South American countries.
Fruits, (not fruits, which we have already discarded from the vegetable category earlier in the article) are those structures that are in charge of protecting, feeding and propagating the seeds.. They differ from fruits only in name and flavour characteristics, as the structure is the same and fulfils the same function.
This confusion between fruit and fruit is due to the fact that the term vegetable excludes fruits with a sweet or sour taste (such as apples or oranges). But there are other fruits that grow in orchards and are traditionally considered vegetables, such as pumpkins, aubergines or tomatoes.. All these examples are fruits, but they are also fruits and vegetables.
Bulbs are, like edible stems (tubers), structures for energy storage and asexual reproduction of some plants. Unlike tubers, bulbs are not enlarged stems, but the base from which the leaves come out of the plant. and also the roots at the opposite end.
As an example of edible bulbs, we would find garlic and onion. There are also inedible bulbs, which are not called vegetables, such as those that develop tulips.
4. Edible roots
Edible roots are, as the name implies, any root whose consumption is fit for human consumption. They are also known as food roots or root vegetables. Examples of edible roots are carrots, radishes or turnips..
In addition to these vegetable classifications, there is a final category that will remove any doubts about the real differences between vegetables. As we have seen, the term vegetable does not have a scientific origin and its use is simply to refer to the different varieties of vegetables that can be taken from a vegetable garden.
Within the vegetables, we will also find those that come from plants of which we consume only the flower, as would be the case of the artichoke.
Differences Between Vegetables and Vegetables
Vegetables are the last category of vegetable that we will discuss in this article.Indeed, vegetables are nothing more than another type of vegetable.. According to the RAE, vegetables are defined as “vegetables, especially those with green leaves”.
Strict vegetables are those with tender stems and edible leaves, but there are also plants such as broccoli, which are considered vegetables even though what we consume from them are flowers. Other examples of strict vegetables would be chard or lettuce.
What has happened with the term vegetable is that its common use has surpassed the use of the word vegetable in many Spanish-speaking cultures. The term vegetable may have started as a subcategory of vegetable, but today virtually any edible part of a plant other than a fruit, cereal or legume is considered a vegetable.
The confusion with these terms is also due to the fact that “vegetables”, rather than specific plants, refer to the different foods that we can extract from plants grown in orchards.
Whichever way you refer to them, vegetables, plant elements are basic to a balanced diet and contain a multitude of elements beneficial to our health. If you are interested in knowing some of the benefits of consuming vegetables, in this same portal we have several articles on the subject that you can consult to improve your knowledge about nutrition.
- Van Duyn MA, Pivonka E. (2000). “Overview of the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption for the dietetics professional: selected literature”. J Am Diet Assoc (Revision) 100 (12): 1511-1521.
- Slavin, J. L., & Lloyd, B. (2012). Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 3(4), 506-516. doi:10.3945/an.112.002154.