Do you know the difference between a fruit vs vegetable? It’s not as simple as you might think.
The first thing to understand about fruits and vegetables is that they’re both healthy foods, but they serve different purposes.
Some are meant to be eaten raw while others are cooked. Some are sweet while others are sour. And some are crunchy while others are soft.
In this article, we’ll go over the differences between fruits and vegetables. We’ll also look at how these two food groups affect our health, so you can make healthier food choices.
What’s the Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are categorized according to those two classifications: botanical and culinary.
- Botanical classification is based on the plant’s parts. The fruit develops and grows from the flowers and will contain seeds, since it’s from a seed plant. Vegetables are the other edible plant parts, including the leaves, roots, and stems.
- Culinary classification is based on their taste: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, or spicy. Fruits usually have either a sweet or tart flavor, so they are generally used in desserts or drinks. Vegetables have a more savory or mild taste, so they are used in a side dish or main course. Fruits are usually sweet and are often eaten raw. Most vegetables are not sweet and are usually cooked before eating.
Both classifications have their place in determining what foods belong to each group, and can even lead to overlap or confusion at times. The simplest way to classify them will be through the tastes and whether they have a sweet or savory taste.
For example, apples are considered a fruit because they grow from a flower and contain seeds, but they can also be cooked, so are they a vegetable too?
Fruits That Are Mistaken for Vegetables
There are several fruits that are commonly mistaken for vegetables. These include avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and zucchinis.
One of the more controversial and well-known examples of the fruit vs vegetable debate is the tomato.
Tomatoes are fruits, but they’re also vegetables according to the two classifications based off the plant and their taste. They’re mostly grown for their edible flesh and used in cooking. Tomatoes are botanically classified as fruits, but they’re also called vegetables because of their flavor profile.
The US Supreme Court settled the debate and ruled in 1893 that tomatoes should be classified under vegetables rather than fruits.
- Related article: Do Vegetables Have Seeds
Fruit vs Vegetable – Sweeter Flavors
There are a few vegetables that are also considered fruits because of their sweet flavor. They are often used in a similar fashion as fruits when making pies, desserts, and baked goods.
These sweet vegetables include sweet potatoes and yams. They are often cooked or mashed into a side dish or dessert.
Sweet potatoes are a type of root vegetable with a sweet taste. They are often served as a side dish or added to dishes such as soups and stews. Unlike other root vegetables, a sweet potato does not contain starch, but this is not what gives them their characteristic sweetness.
Instead, the sweetness comes from sugar that is present in the flesh of the tuber. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin C and fiber.
Candied yam is a baked dish made from cooked yams. Yams are an edible tuber, similar to potatoes. Other vegetables with a sweeter flavor include beet, carrot, rutabaga and turnip.
Fruits vs Vegetables – Nutritional Value
Fruits and vegetables both contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, sugar, and water. However, some nutrients are found only in certain types of food. For example, most fruits contain high levels of potassium, while vegetables tend to have higher amounts of calcium, iron, and magnesium.
- Vitamins and Minerals – Fruits and vegetables both contain high amounts of nutrients and antioxidants.
- Fat and Sodium – Both vegetables and fruits contain low amounts of fat and sodium.
- Sugars – Fruits contain high levels of natural sugar, so they also have higher amounts of calories. But the sweet flavors in fruits are why they’re also more appealing to children.
- Fiber – Both fruits and vegetables container high amounts of fiber. Per 100 grams, fruit will usually contain 2 to 15 grams of fiber, while leafy vegetables will provide 1.2 to 4 grams of fiber.
- Water Content – This will vary depending on the item. For example, leafy vegetables are usually 84-95%, while fruits have less water, 61-89%.
Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
There is a lot of evidence showing the positive effects and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption on health.
Eating more fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, eating more than 3 servings per day reduced the risk of heart disease by up to 70%.
Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you prevent cancer. Your body needs fiber to absorb vitamins and minerals. Fiber also helps control your weight by slowing down digestion. Fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients that can help protect your heart. You should eat them every day.
An increase in fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce the risk of developing diabetes. However, this does not apply to fruit juice. Fruit juice contains a concentrated dose of the nutrients found in fruit, but lacks the fiber and other health benefits that come with eating whole fruit.
Eating more fruits and vegetables can help you control your weight and blood sugar levels. The fiber content in fruits and vegetables slows digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, helping you feel full longer and avoid overeating.
Both fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause damage to cells, which can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants neutralize these harmful chemicals and promote cell growth and repair.
Fruit vs Vegetable List
A list of fruits and vegetables that fall into each category:
- Leafy greens (spinach, lettuce)
- Root vegetables (carrots, beets, parsnips, celery root, radishes)
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas, beans, pumpkin, squash)
- Other vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Fruit vs Vegetable Final Thoughts
Fruits and vegetables are nutritious foods that help you stay healthy. You should eat them every day to get the most out of them. In addition to being delicious, they also contain many vitamins and minerals.
Eating a wide range of foods provides you with many different vitamins and minerals that help to keep your body stay healthy.
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