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The Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable

Updated on January 9, 2017
Photos are my own. Article copyright Lorelei Cohen.
Photos are my own. Article copyright Lorelei Cohen.

Why is one food called a fruit and one a vegetable?

The fruits and vegetables which we consume are all picked from plants which grow out of the ground.

We can eat them raw or cooked, snack on them, drink them, and even use many of them for medicinal purposes.

Most fruits and vegetables are usually very healthy for us. They are also both generally low in calories, and protein, but generally high in vitamin C or Vitamin B.

It would appear that fruits and vegetables basically seem to have the same characteristics. So how can you tell which foods are a fruit and which are a vegetable?


How are fruits and vegetables classified?

The issue of how to classify fruits and vegetables has been around for a very long time.

Back In 1893 the United States Supreme Court tried to define which was which by classifying vegetables as the plants traditionally consumed within the main meal, and fruits as those plants which were consumed as a desert, or a snack.

Although this classification system made some sense it still did not solve the issue, there were still times when these events overlapped, and a clearer description was needed.

Fruit and Vegetables are delightfully nutritious at any time of year.

Bowl of colorful fruit salad.
Bowl of colorful fruit salad.

It is an issue that has been confusing people for a very long time. So let's delve into the differences between a fruit and a vegetable.

The seeds are the key to the classification of a fruit or a vegetable.

It was decided that where the seeds of the fruit or vegetable are located at, is what would be the determining factor as to whether a food would be classified as a fruit, or a vegetable.

If seeds are contained within the pulpy part of a food than it is classed as a fruit. New fruit is generally born from a flower on the mother plant. Which means that fruits are basically an ovary which contains the seeds of the plant within it. Fruits are also usually sweet although this aspect of a fruit can be confusing when looking at fruits such as the Tomato and Cucumber. They are exceptions to the rule not sweet like the standard fruit would be.

Vegetables are plants which we consume the leaves, stems, roots, or basically any other part other than the pulpy section surrounding the seed. So technically even some bushes and trees are vegetables. (Hmmm? I kind of thought that Oak tree down the block looked rather yummy.)

Tomato fruit on the vine.
Tomato fruit on the vine.

Still confused as to how tomato and cucumber got classified as a fruit?

Tomato, Cucumber, Squash, Pumpkin, Watermelon, Avocado, Bell Pepper and Olive are all classified as fruits. These are also the fruits that are most often mistaken for vegetables.

However if you look closely at these foods you can easily see that their seeds are within the pulp, and the pulp of the fruit (or ovary), is what we consume.

Still confused by the whole fruit and vegetable classification system? It is very easy to be a little befuddled by the whole process because fruits can overlap into, and actually be considered as vegetables, but vegetables cannot be classified as fruits.

Fruits and vegetables alike are almost always good for us. They are rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.

A few more foods that are different for very distinct reasons.

Spill the beans on what you knew before you read this article.

Did you know that a cucumber was classed as a fruit?

See results

Did you know that green tea is loaded with antioxidants?

Eat your fruits and vegetables - They are good for you.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help to reduce a persons risk of developing Cancer and other age related illnesses.

Whether you call a Cucumber a fruit or a vegetable, just know that when you munch it down, it is going to be good for your body.

The Canada food guide suggests that adults consume seven to ten servings of fruits and vegetables each and every day. They also recommend that these servings consist of at least one serving of a dark green vegetable and one serving of an orange colored vegetable every day.

So pile a few extra fruits and vegetables on your plate today. They are good for you.

Do you eat your fruit and veggies?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Attractive and informative lens. Thank you.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Thanks for stopping by my fruity article :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      It is funny that some of these are a bit confusing. I love almost all fruits and most vegetables :)

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      Every single day:-) They are my favorite foods. Nice page.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow I didn't know this, thanks for the Share!!

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      I like the lens. Very informative.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @howtocurecancer: A lot of people are confused as to whether or not the tomato and cucumber are fruit or vegetable. This lens sort of clears that question up ;)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: The reasons why they classified a tomato as a fruit always confused me so I had to check it out. Thank you so much for stopping by my fruit and vegetable lens.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @happynutritionist: I love my vegetables and fruits juiced.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @Sylvestermouse: You are probably a very healthy individual then because fruits and vegetables are where we find most of our antioxidants. Best of wishes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      So wonderful lens as always.. my dear friend :) I love this of yours so much. Thanks for your beautiful knowledge by your hard work for me and all of us about the difference between a fruit and a vegetable. You make my day :) Lensrolled here on my chilli posters lens. Hope it be useful for you. I wish you'll get purple star or LOTD soon. Have a wonderful time.. always.. dearest lady :)

    • phoenix arizona f profile image

      phoenix arizona f 6 years ago

      I like vegetables but it's hard to fit them into a regular diet. My favorite 'snack' is carrots and ranch! They are selling low-cal ranch in the supermarkets now which is always a big plus.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 5 years ago

      I read this once and loved it! Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit and wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. :-D

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Gosh, interesting about tomatoes and cucumbers! I try to get my fair share daily of fruits and vegetables.

    • profile image

      marsha32 5 years ago

      I've never heard anyone call watermelon a vegetable, but I did know that tomatoes are technically fruits.

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 5 years ago from Sweden

      Such lovely and tasteful lens! fruitful...hehe

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 5 years ago

      Yes, I love fruits and vegetables.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      I love both and try to eat both daily, but thanks for the info it is not what I expected.... Thanks so much

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      To confuse us a little more, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and peppers are always with the vegetables in the grocery store....seems only the watermelon is with the fruits....no wonder we have trouble with what the are but the most important part is they are yummy and good for us. I try to have both fruits and vegetables every day but don't come up to the Canadian standards. I never even thought about what an olive might be, guess I just put them in the pickle group.

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