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What Is The Difference Between A Fruit And A Vegetable [TOP]

What's the difference between fruit and vegetables? At a glance, the answer to this question may seem pretty simple. Obvious, even. If it's sweet and juicy like a strawberry, it must be a fruit. And if it's savoury and fibrous like a carrot, it must be a vegetable. But is that how these two food groups are officially defined? Or are there any other aspects that need to be taken into account?

What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable

You may have heard that some people consider tomato a fruit. But tomato can sometimes be categorized as a fruit, and sometimes as a vegetable. That's because the exact definitions will depend on whether you're a gardener or a chef, as explained by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) (opens in new tab). Moreover, your language and country of origin may also affect how you perceive this issue.

Most people will look at the issue from a culinary standpoint. In that case, fruits and vegetables are separated based on their taste and aroma. According to this definition, fruits are sweet or sour, while vegetables are more mild and savory. These two food groups will also have different culinary uses. Fruits will be predominantly added to desserts, smoothies or juices, while vegetables will form a part of a hearty side dish or the main course.

How you perceive fruit and vegetables may also depend on where you're from and the language you speak. In 2011, the journal Public Health Nutrition published a survey that revealed the scope of these cultural differences. According to their findings, rice was considered to be a vegetable by 20% of adult respondents based in the US. When compared with English speakers, Spanish speakers were more likely to call rice a vegetable. On the other hand, Chinese speakers were less likely to do so. Beans, which are often grouped in the vegetable category, also divided opinions. Compared to Spanish speakers, English speakers were more likely to label them as vegetables.

To find out more about fruits and what defines them, you can read this article by The New York Botanical Garden (opens in new tab), or this in-depth analysis provided by National Geographic (opens in new tab).

"Postharvest physiology and biochemistry of fruits and vegetables". Yahia, E. M., & Carrillo-Lopez, A. (2018). =en&lr=&id=lMlaDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=botanical+definition+fruit+and+vegetables (opens in new tab)

Remember, vegetables can come from all parts of the plant, be it the roots, leaves, stalks, or other parts. Keeping that in mind can be useful when sorting out whether something belongs in the vegetable category or the fruit category.

Botanically, fruits contain seeds and come from the flower of a plant, while the rest of the plant is considered a vegetable. In cooking, fruits are considered to be sweet while vegetables are more savory.

Fruit is higher in sugar and calories than vegetables, but both fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Specific types of fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients.

Increasing your fiber intake through fruits and vegetables may even reduce your risk of cancer. Multiple studies have found that higher fruit and vegetable consumption is linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer (17, 18).

Note that these results applied to fruits and vegetables, but not fruit juice. Fruit juice provides a concentrated dose of the vitamins, minerals and sugars found in fruit, but without the fiber and the health benefits that come with it.

A fruit is the mature ovary of a seed plant, usually developed from a flower. Fruits have seeds so they further the reproductive cycle. A vegetable is a plant or that part of a plant which is edible, and does not necessarily have a role in the plant's reproductive cycle. While most vegetables and fruits are easy to distinguish and classify, some are still ambiguous as to whether they are a vegetable or a fruit. Tomatoes, olives and avocados are often considered vegetables, but are actually fruits.

Most fruits are sweet with bitter seeds, because they contain a simple sugar called fructose, while most vegetables are less sweet because they have much less fructose. The sweetness of fruit encourages animals to eat it and spit out the bitter seeds on the ground so they spread and further the plant's life cycle.

Both fruits and vegetables are very high in nutrition as they contain many vitamins and are low in fat and calories. A cup of fruit may contain more calories than a cup of vegetables because fruits have higher sugar content. However, starchy vegetables like beet and potato are higher in calorie as well as sugar.

First, anything that contains the seeds of the plant is a fruit, not a vegetable. This category includes items many consider to be vegetables, including squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and avocados.

Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is applied to plants collectively to refer to all edible plant matter, including the flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds. An alternative definition of the term is applied somewhat arbitrarily, often by culinary and cultural tradition. It may exclude foods derived from some plants that are fruits, flowers, nuts, and cereal grains, but include savoury fruits such as tomatoes and courgettes, flowers such as broccoli, and seeds such as pulses.

Vegetables can be eaten either raw or cooked and play an important role in human nutrition, being mostly low in fat and carbohydrates, but high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Many nutritionists encourage people to consume plenty of fruit and vegetables, five or more portions a day often being recommended.

In the latter-mentioned definition of "vegetable", which is used in everyday language, the words "fruit" and "vegetable" are mutually exclusive. "Fruit" has a precise botanical meaning, being a part that developed from the ovary of a flowering plant. This is considerably different from the word's culinary meaning. While peaches, plums, and oranges are "fruit" in both senses, many items commonly called "vegetables", such as eggplants, bell peppers, and tomatoes, are botanically fruits. The question of whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable found its way into the United States Supreme Court in 1893. The court ruled unanimously in Nix v. Hedden that a tomato is correctly identified as, and thus taxed as, a vegetable, for the purposes of the Tariff of 1883 on imported produce. The court did acknowledge, however, that, botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit.[9]

Throughout recorded history, the rich have been able to afford a varied diet including meat, vegetables and fruit, but for poor people, meat was a luxury and the food they ate was very dull, typically comprising mainly some staple product made from rice, rye, barley, wheat, millet or maize. The addition of vegetable matter provided some variety to the diet. The staple diet of the Aztecs in Central America was maize and they cultivated tomatoes, avocados, beans, peppers, pumpkins, squashes, peanuts, and amaranth seeds to supplement their tortillas and porridge. In Peru, the Incas subsisted on maize in the lowlands and potatoes at higher altitudes. They also used seeds from quinoa, supplementing their diet with peppers, tomatoes, and avocados.[14]

Vegetables play an important role in human nutrition. Most are low in fat and calories but are bulky and filling.[18] They supply dietary fiber and are important sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Particularly important are the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. When vegetables are included in the diet, there is found to be a reduction in the incidence of cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic ailments.[19][20][21] Research has shown that, compared with individuals who eat less than three servings of fruits and vegetables each day, those that eat more than five servings have an approximately twenty percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease or stroke.[22]The nutritional content of vegetables varies considerably; some contain useful amounts of protein though generally they contain little fat,[23] and varying proportions of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin B6; provitamins; dietary minerals; and carbohydrates.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily.[30] The total amount consumed will vary according to age and gender, and is determined based upon the standard portion sizes typically consumed, as well as general nutritional content. Potatoes are not included in the count as they are mainly providers of starch. For most vegetables and vegetable juices, one serving is half of a cup and can be eaten raw or cooked. For leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach, a single serving is typically a full cup.[31] A variety of products should be chosen as no single fruit or vegetable provides all the nutrients needed for health.[22]

Proper post-harvest storage aimed at extending and ensuring shelf life is best effected by efficient cold chain application.[38] Cold storage is particularly useful for vegetables such as cauliflower, eggplant, lettuce, radish, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes, the optimum temperature depending on the type of produce. There are temperature-controlling technologies that do not require the use of electricity such as evaporative cooling.[6] Storage of fruit and vegetables in controlled atmospheres with high levels of carbon dioxide or high oxygen levels can inhibit microbial growth and extend storage life.[39]

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets international standards to ensure that products and services are safe, reliable, and of good quality. There are a number of ISO standards regarding fruits and vegetables.[45] ISO 1991-1:1982 lists the botanical names of sixty-one species of plants used as vegetables along with the common names of the vegetables in English, French, and Russian.[46] ISO 67.080.20 covers the storage and transport of vegetables and their derived products.[47]


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