There are nine vegetable families total, and each one plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. In this guide, we’ll go over each type of vegetable family, list a few familiar (and some unfamiliar) veggies from each family, and give you some helpful, healthy cooking pointers so you know what to do with all this newfound knowledge.
For starters, don’t pass up this course on healthy cooking fundamentals, and learn all the basics to cooking and eating well.
Also called the composite family, or the daisy family, asteraceae is a huge family of over 23,000 species of plant, including – you guessed it – daisies. If it wasn’t obvious, this family is composed of flowering plants, and it’s one of the largest.
What kind of edible flowering vegetables are there, you ask? You might be surprised by the list below! Not only are there some common veggies, but there are also some frequently used herbs.
Allium vegetables are some of the most important veggies in cooking. Every good kitchen is stocked with onions and garlic – how many cooks do you know who cook without them? These strong, potent vegetables are great for protecting against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and they make most any recipe taste great.
Cruciferous vegetables are part of the Brassicaceae family, and include some of the most well-known, green leafy veggies. Like Allium veggies, cruciferous plants are said to help fight cancer with their large doses of phytochemicals. They’re also super high in vitamins and fiber, making many of them absolutely key in maintaining a healthy diet. Here they are below!
- Collard greens
- Brussel sprouts
- Chinese cabbage
- Bok choy
Also called the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae vegetables are great summer veggies, because many of them are great raw, and they’re not too rich. In fact, many of them are arguably fruit, but that’s not a debate for this guide. They’re all healthy, and they’re all gourds, so who cares? Check out the list below.
- Honeydew melon
The Solanaceae family is also commonly known as the potato family. Potatoes and other edible nightshades are important staples in many diets, despite many of them containing highly toxic alkaloids! Don’t worry, though. These compounds can be avoided if the vegetable is prepared properly, and you make sure you know when it’s showing signs of toxicity.
Check out this guide on how to prepare baked potatoes for some basic guidance. If you want to be a food safety pro, check out this guide, or consult this professional food safety and handling course for some serious tips.
- Chile pepper
Beans, legumes, and lentils are excellent vegetables for vegans and vegetarians, because they’re chock full of protein. In fact, they’re great for anyone looking to get their daily value of protein from veggies – they’re healthy, and they’re super easy to prepare! Most of them, with the exception of alfalfa and a few others, can’t be eaten raw, though.
Umbellifers, also called – more simply – the parsley family, is a family of plant where many great and commonly used root vegetables and spices come from. Vegetables in this family are usually cooked together due to their complementary flavors. Even better, they’re used across all kinds of cuisines, from European to Asian and beyond.
The beetroot family is distinguishable by its petal-less flowers. Tons of great food species come out of this unusual family, many that you might not be consuming as regularly as some of the other vegetables in this guide. If that’s true, you’re missing out on some healthy and interesting recipes.
Check out this guide on detox foods, which has a helpful section on the health benefits of beetroot.
- Sugar beet
- Swiss chard
Here’s a family of vegetables with some major staples, many of which you probably consume on a regular basis in some form or another. Regardless of their commonality, these are important staples in many diets.
Check out this course for some every day gourmet recipes that uses many of the vegetables listed in this guide.