A lot of the food sources we have on Earth, we have food plants to thank for! When we think of the food we eat from plants, many of us jump to the popular forms of produce, consisting of food like vegetables and fruits. However, there are tons of other foods we have plants to thank for, that can help us with healthy eating.
In this article, we’re going to explore 30 different foods that come from plants. For the purposes of this list, we’re going to divide these fruits, spices, pulses, and vegetables into different categories. Let’s dive in!
Root vegetables are vegetables that grow underground, including things like tubers. These include:
Onions are a super popular root vegetable and a staple in diets around the world. It can be the main star of a dish but is more commonly used to season or garnish food.
There are many different kinds of potatoes, from sweet potato to yellow potato, to russet potato, and more, that all grow underground before being harvested to eat.
Radish is a popular edible root vegetable that is a highly nutritious addition to any diet.
Carrots are a popular root vegetable for a first-time garden, as the carrot plant is fairly easy to grow and harvest.
Stem vegetables are vegetables where we mainly consume the stem of the plant. These include:
Asparagus is considered a stem vegetable, as the asparagus stalk is the main part we eat, rich in nutrients and vitamins needed for a healthy diet.
When people think of stem vegetables, celery is one of the first plants that come to mind, as you can eat the entire stalk. While the stem is what’s mainly eaten here, some people use the greens on top too for eating.
Leeks are a delicious, fragrant stem plant that tastes great cooked in foods or used raw as a garnish.
Leaf vegetables are kinds of vegetables where we consume the leaves of the plant. These include:
Spinach is chock full of nutrients, and can be eaten in many ways! Try it fresh for salad, boiled in stews, or hidden into smoothies to reap its health benefits.
While lettuce isn’t as nutrient rich as other leafy greens, it’s popular around the world as a salad base and addition to foods like sandwiches.
Cabbage is a delicious plant food and one of the more versatile leaf vegetables on our list. These are popular for eating around the globe, used in everything from cabbage rolls to dumpling fillings, to salad bases.
Flower vegetables are types of vegetables where we mainly consume the flowery head of the plant. These include:
Many people might not know this, but the delicious heads of the broccoli plants are actually flowers! Broccoli is also rich in minerals and vitamins and is a great food for healthy diets.
Artichoke is a lesser known vegetable for many, but is highly nutritious and a great addition to your meal plan.
Cauliflower also flowers if left to grow, but when harvested, makes for a delicious diet staple. It’s super similar to broccoli, with edible florets and a stalk that can be used in many ways in the kitchen.
Fruits are sweet, seed-bearing plants that we grow to eat. These include:
Apples are an extremely popular fruit, grown on trees and harvested in the fall. They’re amazing on their own raw, cooked into desserts, or made into juice.
Like apples, the orange is also an extremely popular fruit, especially for use as a juice. It’s also great to add into deserts, and eaten on its own for high amounts of vitamin c.
There are many things to love about pears, from their tasty flesh to pretty green skin. Like other fruits listed above, it’s also versatile in its uses, and makes for one tasty snack.
Pulses, sometimes referred to as legumes, consist of various dry grains and beans that come from plants. These include:
Pulses like pinto beans can be found raw or canned, and are a great, filling source of protein in your diet. Perfect for anyone vegan, looking for plant protein or general protein foods.
Lentils are a plant based protein that can be found in diets around the globe, having been enjoyed by humans for centuries thanks to their versatility.
Fava beans are one of the oldest domesticated legumes in the world and are super easy to cook, especially as a part of a plant based diet.
Cereals are a food source that come from different grain crops and can be eaten on their own, or used in cooking to make new things. Examples of cereals include:
Rice is a global staple, found in just about every culture. This versatile cereal grain makes a great base for tons of different dishes or can be made into rice cereal for babies.
If you are a lover of carb-heavy foods like bread, you have this cereal grain to thank! Humans have grown wheat for thousands of years, using it in all sorts of ways.
Barley is an interesting grain, used as a food grain for things like bread, as a sweetener, and is popular in use for alcoholic drinks like beer.
Many of our favorite oils come from plants. These include:
While some people think of the sunflower as simply a flower, they are now popular for their use in making sunflower oil, a popular cooking oil.
Coconut oil is an oil that comes from the fleshy fruit of the coconut. Examples of its uses span more than just cooking, as coconuts are also popular for use on skin, hair, and teeth as well as for food.
Avocado is another plant that we use for oil and many other things. While the flesh of this fruit is full of healthy fat and oil that makes a great cooking oil, avocado is also delicious eaten on its own.
While some of the spices we use are mineral-based, many are plant-based before they’re dried and used. Examples of spices include:
Not a lot of people know this, but cinnamon is actually a plant-based spice, coming from the cinnamon tree. To get cinnamon, farmers harvest the inner bark of these trees and either grind it into spice or let it curl and dry into cinnamon sticks.
Pepper is another spice that many people don’t realize comes from plants. Pepper comes from the pepper plant, whose fruit is picked and dried to make edible peppercorns.
Ginger can also be considered a root plant, as the bulbous body of the plant actually roots and grows underground like tubers. Once harvested the fruit can be sold as is, or it can be dried and turned into a spice.
There are also some drinks that we can thank plants for! These include:
Coffee beans come from the coffee plant, which looks like small shrubs that grow in parts of Asia and Africa. Coffee is a drink that started in ancient cultures before coming to the new world, exploding in popularity.
Tea is another beverage that comes from plants. While the exact plant can vary depending on the kind of tea, almost all popular teas are plant-based.