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.
|Introduction||The word fruit has different meanings in different contexts. In botany, fruits are the ripened ovaries of flowering plants.||The term vegetable generally means the edible parts of plants.|
|Seed||Must contain seed, either inside or on the outside (e.g. strawberry).||Vegetables do not contain seeds.|
|Taste||Mostly sweet, sometimes tart, with bitter seeds.||Not sweet or very subtly sweet. While each vegetable is distinct in taste, hardly any vegetable can be classified as sweet, sour, salty or bitter.|
|Nutrition||Low in fat and calories, high in fiber, often high in natural sugar.||Low in fat and claories, high in fiber. Startchy vegetables like beet and potato are very high in sugar.|
What is a fruit?
A fruit is defined as the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, as the pea pod, nut, tomato, or pineapple. It is the edible part of a plant developed from a flower, with any accessory tissues, as the peach, mulberry, or banana. A fruit is the often sweet and fleshy part of a plant that surrounds the seeds, although some fruits like berries bear the seed on the outside of the fruit.
What is a vegetable?
All other edible plant parts are considered vegetables. A vegetable is an herbaceous plant cultivated for an edible part, such as the root of the beet, the leaf of spinach, or the flower buds of broccoli or cauliflower.
Examples of fruits and vegetables
Here's an interesting list of fruits that are often thought to be vegetables:
- squashes and zucchini
- green, red, and yellow peppers
- sweet potatoes and yams
Apples, eggplants, rose hips and corn kernels are also fruits.
It is also interesting to note that mushrooms are neither fruit nor vegetable; they are a type of fungus.
Types of Vegetables
Examples of vegetables include broccoli, potato, onions]], lettuce, spinach, turnips, cauliflower, . Vegetables are classified according to the part of the plant:
- Root vegetables: underground plant parts consumed by people as food. Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates.
- Edible Flowers: flowers that are consumed either raw or after cooking. e.g. broccoli, chives, cornflower, cauliflower, basil, bean, okra
- Stems like asparagus, leek, sugar cane
- Leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, mustard and cabbage
Differences in popular usage
Fruits and vegetables are vegetarian as well as vegan, hence constitute a big part of the staple diet in almost every household.
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.
Although vegetables and fruits are extensively used in preparations that involve cooking or baking, they provide most nutrition when they are eaten raw.
Because of the combination of high nutrition and low calorie, most weight loss and diet plans recommend high portions of fruits and veggies over processed food.
In the video below, a dietitian talks about the importance of fruits and vegetables to the diet and whether canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh.