The Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables

By strict scientific definition, a fruit is the ripened ovary of a female flower, including what we commonly know as fruit, and some other foods that may not be so commonly known as fruit such as nuts, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, olives and avocados.

I often enjoy researching and studying foods, and in particular eating them, but it wasn’t until recently that I found myself inquiring about the actual identity of fruits and vegetables, and what the difference was between them. I am guilty of sort of lumping fruits in with “sweet” things, and vegetables in with “savory” things, but this oversimplification of the matter at hand is not as correct as I have so often thought. Let’s take a closer look at the plants and their definitions.

Plants that contain the seed within themselves for reproduction of their kind can be considered fruits. The English word fruit comes from frui, the Latin verb meaning to enjoy or take pleasure in. By strict scientific definition, a fruit is the ripened ovary of a female flower, including what we commonly know as fruit, and some other foods that may not be so commonly known as fruit such as nuts, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, olives and avocados.

In 1893 the U.S. Supreme Court, wishing to deal with this confusion, ruled that a fruit refers to a plant generally eaten out of the hand, as an appetizer, or dessert, while a vegetable refers to a plant grown for an edible part, or of itself, to be generally eaten as part of a main course. Well there you have it, right from the U.S. Supreme Court. If this definition does not satiate you, I suggest making up your own definition; however, as long as you are eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, and reaping the benefits of sowing this healthy habit, then your body and mind will be getting excellent nourishment and nutrition. Let’s not let words and differences get in the way of living healthier lives, and sharing that energy with others.

The English word vegetable is derived from the Latin vegetus meaning active or lively. By the middle Ages, the nobility began to spurn the eating of vegetables, favoring a heavier animal-based diet. Interestingly enough, “garbage” comes from the root word gerbe, meaning green stuff, and most likely came into common vocabulary usage because commoners and simple living folk ate it more often. Not only is this type of diet more nutritious, it is also the easiest on the body, and on the bankbook. Local markets often have daily specials on fruits and vegetables, and I find that very good deals can be had when I buy some items that have a tiny bit of a bruise, or a portion that needs to be cut away. It is not uncommon to be able to spend less than ten dollars a day on really good produce.

Typically, vegetables include bulbs, flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, stalks, tubers and stems. Many people mistake peppers, tomatoes, olives and other fruits as vegetables. In general, vegetables have a more pronounced flavor, and are easier to digest, when lightly steamed or baked. For health reasons, try to avoid frying, or deep frying, vegetables as this reduces the nutritional content by up to 85%. The non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, and lettuce leaf are highest in valuable minerals, vitamins and other essential nutrients like silica.

Botanically, fruits fall into four categories: pomes, such as pears and apples, with cores and small seeds; berries, such as raspberries and strawberries, with many seeds throughout; drupes, such as plums and peaches, with a single stone or pit; and aggregate fruits, such as bananas, grapes, or dates, that grow in clusters. For the sake of obtaining optimum nutrition from fruits, buy as fresh and local as possible, within the seasonal growing time, and eat the fruits by themselves, or 15 minutes before other foods. Melon in particular digests very quickly and is best eaten separate from other fruits or foods.

Whether you call it a fruit, or call it a vegetable, the bottom line on both categories of foods is the same: calorie for calorie there is no finer source for vitamins and minerals than fruits and vegetables. Add some more color to your life, and dig into at least 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Why let titles and roles get in the way of better living? Happy eating!

It is not uncommon to be able to spend less than ten dollars a day on really good produce.

What you have in your mind?