They are an extremely rich source of minerals, enzymes and vitamins. However, faulty cooking and prolonged careless storage, destroy these valuable nutrients. Most of the vegetables are, therefore, best consumed in their natural raw state in the form of salads.
There are different kinds of vegetables. They may be edible roots, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds. Each group contributes to the diet in its own way. Fleshy roots have high energy value and are a good source of vitamin B. Seeds are relatively high in carbohydrates and proteins and the yellow ones are rich in Vitamin A. Leaves, stems and fruits are excellent sources of minerals,” vitamins, water and roughage.
To prevent loss of nutrients in vegetables, it would be advisable to steam or boil vegetables in their juices on a slow fire and the water or cooking liquid should not be drained off. No vegetable should be peeled unless it is so old that the peel is tough and unpalatable.
In most root vegetables, the largest amount of minerals is directly under the skin and these are lost if the vegetables are peeled. Soaking of vegetables should also be avoided if taste and nutritive value are to be preserved.
An intake of about 280 grams of vegetables per day per person is considered essential for the maintenance of good health. Of this, leafy vegetables should constitute 40 per cent, roots and tubers 30 per cent and the other vegetables like brinjals, ladies fingers and cauliflower 30 per cent.