Prof (Dr.) R.D. GuptaVegetables form the most nutritive part of our diet. They tone up the energy and vigour and improve the health. Regular use of vegetables supplies health building and protecting substances such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils, vitamins and minerals.Vegetables contain many metals and non-metals. These metals are not present in free state but are present as salts and complexes. Actually these mineral salts are the constituents of the different tissues of the vegetables.Mineral Elements: At least eleven mineral elements are needed for the proper growth and development of the human body. Out of these, calcium, iron and phosphorus are required in large quantities and these are present in sufficient amount in vegetables.Besides these elements, magnesium, sodium, potassium, manganese, copper, iodine, sulphur and chlorine, which play a great role in keeping us in proper trim, are also supplied by vegetables.Calcium is supplied by a number of vegetables but are pre- dominate in Methi, sarson, gram leaves, lady-finger (Bhindi), bitter-gourd (Karela), sweet potato (Shakkarkandhi), cabbage (Band Ghobi) and knol-khol (Karam). It is needed for keeping bones healthy and for building up resistance to infections. In its absence the children suffer from many types of diseases like rickets, pigeon chest, irritability and retarded growth. Lack of calcium in the diet may cause trouble in child birth. Calcium also aids in the economy of iron in the body.Iron is found most in gram leaves, Methi, Sarson and Bhindi. Iron is an essential part of the blood and is the oxygen carrier in the body. Most of the iron requirements of the body can be made from green leaves and the nutritional anaemia can be easily cured by the green leaves.Phosphorus is contained in enough quantities in garlic, gram leaves, Kerala, Sarson, green chillies, pea, broccoli and cauliflower. Phosphorus is essential for all active tissues of the body. It is required for cell multiplication in both bones and soft tissues, and for the maintenance of proper liquid-content in the tissues. It plays a major role in the oxidation of carbohydrates which liberate energy.Magnesium is in abundance in knol-khol, garlic, potato, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, radish, sweet potato, tomato and cauliflower. Apart from calcium, bone also contain salts of magnesium metal. In addition to its importance as stated above, magnesium is also connected with muscular activities and is required for the normal functioning of the nervous system.The sodium and potassium are met with in garlic, sweet potato, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, knol-khol, tomato, radish, cabbage and lettuce though the main source of sodium in our food is common salt (sodium chloride). Sodium, together with other salts, maintains the pressure and equilibrium of blood in body. Lack of sodium in the diet causes loss of appetite, retarded growth, disturbance of the reproductive functions and ultimately death. Although the role of potassium in general is similar to that of sodium, the function of each is very specific. Potassium is found largely in the body cells (blood cells and muscles) whereas sodium is widely distributed in the body fluid.The content of maganese varies widely. Tomato, lettuce and spinach are rich source for supply of this element. This element is needed for the proper functioning of the vital organs like the kidneys and the liver.The richest source of copper is potato and tomato. Copper is also supplied by celery in traces. The chief function of copper in the body is to prevent anaemia. It reinforces the activity of iron in the body.Chlorine is an essential constituent in yielding fluid in the stomach and helps in digestion of the food. The rich sources of Chlorine are cabbage, sweet potato, knol-khol, tomato, broccoli, carrot, lettuce, radish, potato and cauliflower. Iodine is present mostly in Bhindi, cabbage and lettuce. Iodine is needed in many tissue activities and prevents goitre (Gillar) in human beings.Sulphur is supplied by vegetables like broccoli, radish, potato, cauliflower, carrot, sweet potato, lettuce tomato and cabbage. The pungency of onions and garlic is due to the compound of sulphur. Sulphur plays a very important role in the protein metabolism and particularly in the synthesis of sulphur containing amino-acids.It is, thus evident that the vegetables play great role in the human diet. They are essential as balanced diet for maintenance of good health.(Ex-Associate Dean Cum Chief Scientist KVK-Jammu, SKUAST-J).
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