Little Nutritional Dictionary


Some nutritional terms can sometimes be difficult to understand. Here is a non-exhaustive inventory of useful definitions to help you better understand vegetables and the benefits they provide.


Annuals are plants that live for only one year. Their growing period (from germination to death) lasts one year.


These molecules are unique in that they fight reactive oxygen species, either by preventing them from forming or blocking their harmful activity. For more details, see the monograph on antioxidants.


This process involves treating vegetables that are then stored in a jar or can. The name comes from Nicolas Appert, the inventor of the process in which food is sterilized using heat.


Biennials are plants whose growing periods last two years. During the first year, biennials develop leaves and roots, and in the second year, flowers and seeds develop.


This process involves either boiling or steaming vegetables for a short time (30 seconds to 2 minutes) before cooking. Blanching helps fix the colors of vegetables and stop the action of enzymes responsible for causing vegetables to deteriorate during storage.


Canning is the safest way to keep vegetables for as long as possible. Canned vegetables are microbiologically stable for several years until they are opened. There are canned vegetables that are still intact after 70 years!


Nutritional deficiency is a total or partial lack of a nutrient, leading to short- or long-term health consequences.

Direct seeding

This method involves planting the seed right in the place where it will grow.

Dry legumes

Dry legumes are seeds. They are harvested when mature, then dried. They can thus be easily stored. They need to be rehydrated before use. Dry legumes provide starch (complex carbohydrates), fiber, and minerals: magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, etc. Dry legumes include dry beans, lentils, fava beans, split peas, and flageolet beans.


This substance boosts and accelerates biochemical reactions in the body.


Fiber is a kind of carbohydrate. Fiber is made of long, soluble or insoluble carbohydrate chains. It plays multiple roles in the body: regulating bowel movements, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels, and helping you feel full. The recommended daily value of fiber is 25 to 30 grams per day. For more details, see the monograph on fiber.

Flash freezing

This process involves having vegetables pass through tunnels at between -22°F and -40°F to freeze them. The goal is for the core of the vegetables to reach around 0°F as quickly as possible, then to maintain the vegetables at that temperature until they are eaten.

Fresh vegetable

Fresh vegetables have not been processed at all. However, it is more exact to call them “raw vegetables,” as it is often hard to know their real state of freshness when they are purchased.

Humic soil

This soil is rich in humus (decomposed organic plant matter: dead leaves, stems, etc.).


This antioxidant belongs to the carotenoid family. Lutein can be found in large quantities in spinach, corn, broccoli, and more.


Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family. Its unique characteristic is that it gives a red coloring to foods, particularly tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.


Minerals, or more exactly, mineral salts, are compounds found in the body, with important roles to play in the body’s structure, physiology (water regulation), nervous impulses, and more. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, and sodium are all minerals.

Monograph or Case Study

A monograph is a file summing up the state of research on the subject at the moment it was written. Find all our monographs and case studies in the Resources and Research section.


Nutrients are substances that are nutritionally important for the body. Macronutrients (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and fiber) are distinguished from micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and trace elements).


Nutrition is a science that studies the relationship between diet and short- and long-term effects on the body.

Nutritional recommendations

Nutritional recommendations are data established by the public authorities of each country that aim to keep the population in good health through a balanced diet and physical activity.


Obesity is defined as the state of having a body mass index over 30. The body mass index is the relationship of weight (in kilograms) over height (in meters) squared: W/H². Example: a person who is 1.7 meters tall (around 5’7”) is considered to be obese once his or her weight surpasses 87 kilograms (about 192 pounds): 87/1.72=30.1


Perennials are plants that live for several years, surviving through the winter. Each year, roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds develop.


Polyphenols are a large family of over 8000 molecules, including some antioxidants. Polyphenols are found in fruits and vegetables, but also in tea, coffee, and chocolate. For more details, see the monograph on antioxidants in the Resources and Research section.

Processed vegetables

Processed vegetables have been treated so that they can be stored. Processed vegetables include bagged salad greens (ready-to-use), vacuum-packed vegetables, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, and dehydrated vegetables.


“A quantity of a food that can reasonably be eaten in a single sitting.” It is recommended to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, or between 400 and 800 grams per day. In practice, a serving corresponds to a handful of green beans, two ladlefuls of soup, two small tomatoes or a large tomato, two tablespoons of raw vegetables, and three tablespoons of peas. It is a more of a question of good sense than arithmetic! For more details, see the monograph on servings in the Resources and Research section.

Sowing in hills

This method involves planting several seeds in the same hole.

Starting seeds

This method involves giving plants the protection they need to develop well, ensuring optimal growth. Once grown, they will be transplanted outside.


In the strict sense of the term, a vegetable is a garden plant of which certain parts are edible. In the culinary sense, the word “vegetable” designates all edible parts of a non-animal living organisms, whether a plant, fungus, or protist (several seaweeds), that are not sweet in taste. Plants that are made into condiments and fine herbs are also included in this category. Edible parts that are sweeter in taste are fruits, in culinary terms. In botany, “vegetable” designates the fruit of pulses, the pod. Vegetables are often produced through market gardening, a branch of agriculture.


Vitamins are vital substances that our bodies are usually unable to produce in sufficient quantities. We need to take them in through diet. There are 13 vitamins, with vitamin C, provitamin A, and vitamin B9 being the most common in vegetables.


This antioxidant belongs to the carotenoid family. Zeaxanthin is found in large quantities in corn, from which it gets its name: the scientific name for corn is Zea.