30 Food Plants and their Benefits for Health!
Food plants are crops of fruits, cereals, legumes, vegetables and others, which the human being uses to cover their nutritional needs.
The nutritional contribution of these plants or crops serves to strengthen the immune system and therefore to prevent and cure diseases. It has been estimated that humans require between 40 and 50 food components for good health.
Six classes of these nutrients are recognized: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibers. Even some nutritionists consider the addition of water as a seventh class to be pertinent.
Carbohydrates and fats are the main sources of energy. Proteins also act as sources of energy, but their primary functions are related to the growth, maintenance and repair of tissues. They also play many physiological roles.
Fats are the main form of food energy storage of the body, and constitute 15-30% of body weight. In contrast, carbohydrates account for only 1.5-0.5% of body weight.
More than 20,000 species of plants have been used as food by humans. But today, very few plant species are responsible for most of human nutrition . Only about 150 food plants are regularly marketed worldwide and only 12 species provide 75% of the food.
Wheat, rice, corn, barley, sorghum, millet, oats, rye and sugar cane provide 80% of the calories consumed by humans. Only three family cultures of these vegetables represent approximately 60% of calories and 56% of the protein that humans obtain directly from plants.
List of 30 healthy food plants
Tubers and vegetables with starch
Potatoes are underground tubers that grow on the roots of a plant called Solanum Tuberosum . They consist mainly of carbohydrates, and contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber, practically do not contain fats.
Due to their high potassium content, they can help lower blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease.
The edible part of the yam plant is the underground storage organ. The tubers can vary in size reaching up to 2 m long and 54 kilograms in weight, which can hinder their excavation.
The taste varies from sweet to bitter to tasteless. The texture of this vegetable varies from moist and tender to coarse and dry. Yam is a source of complex carbohydrates and soluble dietary fiber.
It is a good source of energy; 100 g provide 118 calories. It decreases constipation levels , decreases bad cholesterol , reduces the risk of cancer and regulates blood sugar levels. It contains antioxidants, vitamin B complex and minerals such as: copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
Cassava is a large semi-woody shrub or small tree, 1.3 to 3 m high. It is an important supplier of low cost carbohydrates for the populations of the humid tropics, it is the most important tropical root crop and the fourth source of calories in the world (after rice, sugarcane and corn).
It is one of the tubers with the highest calorie value: 100 g of root provide 160 calories. Because it is rich in gluten-free starch, cassava is used in special food preparations for patients with celiac disease.
The young leaves of the plant are a good source of dietary protein and vitamin K, which is essential for strengthening the bones.
It also has an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. Because it is rich in potassium (271 mg per 100 grams) it helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
4- Pumpkin or Auyama
It is a fast growing vine that crawls along the surface in a similar way to other vegetables. It is one of the most popular field crops in the world.
The fruit has a hollow center, with abundant small white seeds that are an excellent source of proteins, minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids .
It is one of the lowest calorie vegetables: 100 g of fruit provide only 26 calories, it does not contain saturated fat or cholesterol. However, it is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins.
It is usually recommended by nutritionists for cholesterol control and weight reduction programs. Presents high levels of vitamin A that are required by the body to maintain the good condition of the skin and mucosa. They can help the human body protect itself against lung cancer .
Pumpkin seeds have a lot of dietary fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. In addition, seeds are concentrated sources of healthy proteins, minerals and vitamins.
They are plants similar to a tree that grow 2 to 6 m in height. The non-smooth trunk consists of leaf sheaths that overlap strongly. The leaves are huge up to 42.5 m long and 1 m wide. The fruit was well known for the ancient Hindu, Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures.
Bananas are grown today in all humid tropical regions, they are the fourth largest fruit crop in the world in value and the largest in world production volume.
They are very reliable sources of starch and energy: 100 g of banana have around 122 calories. It contains 2.3 g of dietary fiber per 100 g, so it helps reduce constipation problems.
The banana is also rich in vitamin C : 100 g provide 18.4 mg of Vitamin C, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents.
Beans, peas and lentils
It is an annual erect grass, 20-100 cm tall. The flowers are white, pink, violet or blue, 8-12 mm long. They produce pods 14-35 mm long, containing 1 to 4 seeds.
Although the most common type of garbanzo is round and beige, other varieties include colors such as black, green and red. Chickpeas are prized for their high protein and fiber content.
One serving of a cup of raw chickpeas provides 50% of the daily needs of potassium, 2% of vitamin A, 21% of calcium, 13% of vitamin C, 69% of iron, 2% of sodium, 55% of vitamin B -6 and 57% magnesium. In addition, chickpeas contain vitamin K, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
Chickpeas contribute to the control of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, the construction and maintenance of bone structure, help in the transmission of nerve impulses, the absorption of fat and reduce chronic inflammation.
It is an annual herb, vertical, that branches 25-75 cm tall. It has small flowers that are usually light violet. The plants have flat, oblong pods that are short 1 to 2 cm long, with one or two small seeds called lentils.
They increase the constant, slow burning energy due to their fiber and complex carbohydrates. 26% of their caloric intake is attributed to the protein. They are a good source of iron, which enhances the transport of oxygen throughout the body.
It is a fast growing annual climbing plant, measuring up to about 2 m in length. Pea pods are generally 5 to 15 cm long and contain 2 to 10 seeds.
The common pea is a source of proteins, vitamins C and soluble and insoluble fibers. It contributes to create resistance in the body against infectious agents and eliminate harmful free radicals. Fresh pea pods are excellent sources of folic acid .
The black-eyed pea is an annual tropical herb that grows up to more than 75 cm in height, but sometimes leans considerably. The pods can measure up to 30 cm long and the seeds 2-7 mm long in globular form.
Due to its high content of vitamin A are essential for eye health, vitamin B9 contributes to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. Due to its richness in soluble fibers helps to keep blood sugar balanced and prevent type 2 diabetes.
Whole Grains / Cereals / Pseudocereals
Asian rice is an annual herb that grows best in a hot and humid climate. The plants are typically 60-180 cm tall.
The health benefits of rice include its ability to provide quick and instant energy, improve digestive processes, stabilize blood sugar levels and slow down the aging process , it also provides an essential source of vitamin B1 to the human body.
It is a pseudocereal. The plant is an annual crop, reaching a height of 0.5-2 m, with alternate and wide leaves, it has a thick, woody stem that can be branched or not. The seed is small, 1-2.6 mm in diameter.
Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contains the nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and antioxidants.
The oat plant is an annual herb, which varies in height from 60 to 150 cm, depending on the variety and the environment. Its cultivation is able to withstand the bad soil conditions in which other cereals are unable to thrive.
It gets part of its distinctive flavor from the roasting process that it experiences after being harvested and cleaned. Although oatmeal is shelled, this process does not strip it of its bran and germ allowing it to retain a concentrated source of fiber and nutrients.
13- Buckwheat or Black Wheat
The plant reaches approximately 45-60 cm in height, its characteristic pink or white flowers attract bees. Each buckwheat seed has three sides of pyramidal shape, from brown to gray with a thick outer hull.
Inside, its core is creamy white and has a nutty flavor. It requires little time to harvest and can thrive under drought conditions. Buckwheat is a healthy carbohydrate and a good source of fiber and magnesium.
It is a tall grass 30-120 cm long, with an upright stem and produces spikelets at the tip. The stem consists of nodes and internodes. The stem supports the spike, where the grain is produced.
Barley is a very good source of manganese, dietary fiber and selenium. It also contains copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin.
Because it is rich in fiber it is recommended to protect the digestive system, prevent the appearance of gallstones and regulate cholesterol. Because of its high content of vitamin B prevents atherosclerosis.
It is an annual herb, although perennial varieties have been developed. The plant is generally 1-1.5 m tall and is slightly bushy at the base. Rye grains resemble those of wheat, but are longer and less stubby, ranging in color from yellowish brown to greenish gray.
Rye is a very good source of manganese, dietary fiber, phosphorus, copper, pantothenic acid, magnesium and lignan phytonutrients.
It is beneficial in weight loss programs, facilitates the digestive flow, prevents the appearance of gallstones, reduces the risk of diabetes, lowers blood pressure, prevents some types of cancer and is even recommended in asthma treatments.
It is an annual herbaceous plant, which varies in height from 0.5 to 3 m. Corn plants have male and female flowers separated in the same plant. The male flower is called a tassel and is located at the end of the stem.
The female flower is called cob and is constituted by the leaf and the corn. Corn kernel contains the majority of corn nutrients and is the most consumed part.
Being a good source of antioxidant carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, it stimulates eye health. Some other benefits of its consumption are: diabetes control, the reduction of hypertension , the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
- Its content in beta carotene, lutein and xanthene makes it beneficial for the eyes.
- It has a high concentration of antioxidants so it reduces the effects of free radicals.
- Its potassium content stimulates blood flow in the brain.
- Lutein prevents atherosclerosis.
- Contains factor C0-Q10 that prevents heart disease.
- It contains glucoraphanin, diindolylmethane and beta-carotene, useful in the treatment against cancer.
- It has a high content of vitamin C, sulfur and amino acids that help eliminate free radicals in the body.
- Vitamin E, Omega 3 and folic acid help keep skin healthy and shiny.
- The zeaxanthin, beta carotene and phosphorus present in broccoli prevent the appearance of cataracts.
- It has a high level of Omega 3, which helps prevent diseases such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- Vitamin A prevents night blindness.
- Strengthens the immune system with its high content of vitamin C.
- The potassium present in the carrot helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- Vitamin A and beta-carotene prevent macular degeneration.
- Beta-carotene reduces the risk of stroke.
- The consumption of cauliflower reduces the progress of neurodegenerative diseases due to its vitamin A content.
- It has sulforaphane that protects the skin from UV rays.
- Prevents respiratory papillomatosis thanks to the presence of indole-3-carbinol.
- The vitamin K , glucoraphanin and alpha-linolenic acids help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Prevents bone loss thanks to vitamin C and vitamin K present in its content.
- Reduces the risk of anemia due to its iron and copper content.
- Osteoporosis comes. It has phenolic compounds, iron and calcium.
- Boosts cognitive activity and mental health. Contains phytonutrients and potassium.
- Eggplant fibers regulate glucose and insulin in the body.
- It also has a high content of folic acid that prevents the risks and malformations of the fetus during pregnancy.
- It contains lipoxygenase and carrageenan that help control inflammation.
- Control anxiety.
- It has antimicrobial properties (terpenes, cardenolides and glucanase enzymes).
- Induces the dream.
- Protects neuronal cells
- Prevents infections in the urinary tract.
- It is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
- Prevents gallstones.
- Reduces the carcinogenic effects of cigarettes.
- Prevents macular degeneration
- Reduces the risks of anemia
- Reduces the risks of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Prevents cancer
- Controls blood sugar levels
- Improve vision
- Reduces inflammation of joints and muscles due to its high content of bromelain.
- Avoid the diseases that cause phlegm and mucus accumulation due to its vitamin C content.
- It has astringent properties. Strengthens the teeth and prevents the gums from loosening.
- Due to the high potassium content it is a natural vasodilator.
- Improves ocular health due to its high betacarotene composition.
- Eliminates intestinal infections and complications associated with them.
- Fresh roots serve to relieve toothaches and gums.
- It is used in the treatment of acne.
- The presence of folate, vitamin C and vitamin E favors the functioning of the digestive system.
- It contains the enzyme chemopapain, used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- It helps to reduce fever. Stimulates perspiration in the body.
- It has coagulant and antiseptic properties, which reduces internal bleeding.
- Helps to deal with respiratory disorders due to its high content of vitamin C.
- It is a natural diuretic.
- It is used in hair treatments.
The avocado tree is an evergreen tree, 8-14 m tall. The fruits take 9-15 months to mature.
It is considered a superfood. Avocados are rich in various nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Contain: monounsaturated fatty acids and low sugar. They are a good source of energy.
They have calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and zinc, as well as minerals such as vitamin C, B-6, B-12, A, D, K, E, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
They influence weight control, protection against cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, the treatment of osteoarthritis and the improvement of the absorption of nutrients for the human body.
It is a small tree, usually 3-7 m tall. It produces pink or white flowers in early spring. The fruit is enclosed in a shell that opens when ripe.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, manganese, riboflavin or vitamin B2, biotin, copper, phosphorus and magnesium.
It is used for the treatment of stomach problems, respiratory problems, anemia, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Pistachio is a small, deciduous tree, 3-8 m tall. It has a high content of vitamin E, antioxidants and polyphenols, carotenes and vitamin B complexes such as: riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates.
In addition, pistachios are the storehouse of minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
It is beneficial in weight loss regimens, protection against diabetes, hypertension and improves the functioning of the digestive system.