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Tomato is a Fruit But Eaten like a Vegetable

Updated on February 9, 2013

Definition of a Fruit

Is tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Scientifically speaking, tomato is a fruit. A fruit is a structure of the plant that contain its seed. Since tomatoes have seeds, they are fruits.

Many people also wonder if an avocado is a fruit or a vegetable. Again, based on the technical definition, an avocado is a fruit. Although it has only one seed in it; and a very big seed at that.

On OxfordDictionaries.com, you will find a definition of fruit this way ...

"True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though cultivated forms may be seedless)."

And it says ...

"tomato is technically the fruit of the tomato plant, but it's used as a vegetable in cooking"

Definition of a Vegetable

What is the definition of a vegetable then? That is a bit more complicated.

Wikipedia says a vegetable "usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed."

But dictionary.com says ...

"any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food, as the tomato, bean, beet, potato, onion, asparagus, spinach, or cauliflower."

So according to that definition, vegetables encompasses fruits. Fruits appears to be a subset of vegetables. Note that it gave tomato as an example of a vegetable.

In common usage, the term vegetable is used loosely. For example, mushroom is thought of as vegetable, but they are not plants. Mushrooms are fungi. Note to always cook mushrooms.

Fruits and Vegetables

Berries, oranges, apples are easily thought of as fruit. However, tomato does not appear to fit in that category because it is not eaten as typical fruits. We think of fruit as being able to pick it up and just eat it (sometimes peeling it first). But we hardly think of picking up a big fat tomato and biting into it. Although we might pop a few small grape tomatoes into the mouth.

Typically, tomatoes are used in cooking such as stir fry just like other vegetables. So it is often cooked the same way one would cook vegetables.

By the way, bananas are fruits because they have seeds (although they are just tiny specks). But a banana is also considered an herb, because they come from a herbaceous plant.[reference] A herbaceous plant is a non-woody flowering plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level.

In summary, tomato is a fruit. Whether you think of tomato as a fruit or a vegetable, they are good for you. Eat your fruits and vegetables.

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