What Is the Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable?

Most of us we know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but are we sure we know the real difference between these two?

Fruits and vegetables can be classified both according to a botanical criteria and from a culinary point of view.

To make a botanical classification, it is necessary to consider from which part of the plant they originate.

One fruit, for example, develops from the flower of a plant, while the other parts of it are classified as vegetables.

Fruit contains seeds, while vegetables consist of roots, stems and leaves.

From a culinary point of view, fruits and vegetables are classified according to flavor.

Fruit is generally sweeter or tart, used most of the time in desserts, as a snack, in smoothies or juices, in salads and sometimes in hot soups.

Vegetables on the other hand have a less strong and more salty flavor.

They accompany the main dish and are rarely served alone, but instead serve as side dish, giving it character, flavor and uniqueness.

Let’s see a little bit more in detail the difference between a fruit and a vegetable.

Vegetable: what is it and what properties it has

Let’s clarify immediately that the term vegetable has no real scientific meaning. Its use is mainly linked to the world of gastronomy, therefore its meaning has often changed over the centuries.

The vegetable is low in fructose and has no seeds. From a botanical point of view, different elements of a vegetable can fall into this category: roots, leaves, bulbs and stems all belong to this group.

From a nutritional point of view, the first characteristic of vegetables is the very high percentage of water, which varies between 75 and 95%.

They are also rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, but very low in carbohydrates, calories, fats, or proteins.

They also have several beneficial properties for our body. First of all, they act in a decidedly positive way against the most common gastrointestinal disorders.

Furthermore, it has been shown that consuming vegetables continuously can lower the risk of colon cancer or even counter constipation, just to name a few of the many benefits.

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Classification of vegetables

Not all vegetables are the same, and although the classifications are not entirely rigorous from a botanical point of view, they can undoubtedly help us better understand the properties of these products.

  • purple vegetables: vegetables such as radicchio (aubergines are often included in this classification but technically they are fruit and not vegetables), thanks to the properties of the pigments that color it, they have antioxidant properties;
  • yellow-orange vegetables: such as carrots or peppers are rich in vitamin A, contained in the characteristic pigments;
  • green vegetables: such as broccoli or lettuce, rich in iron and folate (from folium, leaf in fact);
  • white vegetables: onions first of all, but also potatoes, garlic and cauliflower. Rich in fiber, they are excellent for counteracting some common intestinal problems;
  • red vegetables: like red beets, they contain lycopene, considered a fundamental nutrient for humans, as it can prevent a large number of diseases. The tomato could fall into this category, but as we will see, it is not a vegetable, but a fruit.

Knowing these foods and their properties in a really adequate way is really important, especially for what concerns the nutrition of the kids.

Fruit: what is it and what properties it has

Fruit is everything that comes from a flower following its pollination and has seeds. Tomato is not a vegetable, but a fruit, as well as the eggplant and cucumber.

The confusion between fruit and vegetables is however quickly explained, as there are many common characteristics.

Fruit also has high percentages of water, contains many fibers and vitamins, as well as is generally low in fat and carbohydrates.

However, this is only partially true. There are different types of fruits, which can have unusual properties.

Fruit classification

Let’s see a useful classification of the fruits to note how much the characteristics of the fruits may differ:

  • Sour fruits;
  • Semi-acidic fruits;
  • Semi-sweet fruits;
  • Sweet fruits;
  • Fatty fruits;
  • Dried fruit

As with vegetables, there are also some “false fruits”.

The apple is the first and most famous of them. In reality, the real fruit is the core and not the edible part.

Similar for the strawberry, the swollen part is not the fruit, but it is the achenes contained in it, or those that are commonly considered the “seeds”.

This only from a botanical point of view. If we look at the nutritional side, which is what really interests us, apples and strawberries have all the characteristics to be considered fruit without problems.

Fruits often mistaken for vegetables

I’m sure that you know very well which food is considered fruit and which vegetable, at least in culinary terms.

Despite this, there are numerous plants in nature that are technically fruits, although they are often classified as vegetables due to their flavor.

Tomatoes are definitely the most classic and controversial example. In fact, in 1893, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that tomatoes should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit, “according to US custom”.

From a botanical point of view, tomatoes are actually fruits, but it does not matter, as they have now fully entered common use as vegetables due to their flavor.

Other common examples of fruits mistaken for vegetables include: cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, olives, pumpkin, avocado, pea pods.

Vegetable with a sweet flavour

While there are many fruits that are mistaken for vegetables, there aren’t as many vegetables that are mistaken for fruits.

Despite this, there are many varieties of naturally sweet tasting vegetables that are used in a very similar way to fruit, in desserts, cakes, pastries and biscuits.

Sweet potato pie is the dessert par excellence during the traditional “Thanksgiving Day” in the USA. Despite the sugary flavor, sweet potatoes are tubers, not fruits.

Other examples are: classic carrots and red carrots, beets, turnips.

Sweet versus savoury

So now that we are all quite clear about the difference between vegetables or In culinary terms, those foods considered vegetables tend to have a more savory taste, while fruits are valued for their sweetness. But this sweet/savoury logic has some flaws.

Tomatoes make an excellent salsa, but also the mangoes. And how does one classify rhubarb by those standards, a plant that looks like celery, has no appreciable sweetness, and yet whose primary culinary claim to fame is in dessert?

Positive health effects of eating fruits and vegetables 

A large number of studies have reported that eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with a decrease in heart risk. Even only one additional serving per day can lower it by 70%.

In addition, the fact that they are both high in fiber and low in calories helps you feel fuller, longer and thus keep your weight under control, without taking into account all the other benefits on diabetes, on blood sugar and in the fight against different types of cancer.

In reality, let’s face it, the classification of fruit and vegetables is not as important as making sure that fruit and vegetables are never missing from our table, as they are the cardinal point of a healthy and balanced diet.

Have you had your fruits and veggies today? What are your favourites?

Stay always healthy!

Popsicle Society
Popsicle Society

I love traveling, cooking and enjoying this beatiful world. 
I’m a life lover! Simple as that!

65 thoughts

      1. Hey Ri, How are you? Have I been missing all your posts? or have you not posted lately? Just making sure 🙂

      2. Hi dear Sophie, no, you did not miss my posts…the sad reality is that I’m not posting lately…I hope will find the time and energy to start again soon 😉

  1. Fruit is an uncountable noun in English, as opposed to vegetable, which means you cannot say ‘a fruit’ or ‘fruits.’ Just fruit. that’s the teach in me speaking. 🙂
    So the main difference is a grammatical one. Now go on please. 🙂

      1. And I thought you’d get pissed after I sent the comment. Dunno, I don’t mind the Germans pointing out a mistake when I make one. How else could I know. But people differ. I remember some getting mad when I did the same.
        I feel relieved now. 🙂 Please go on.

      2. Hahaha…I have learned Italian because my hubby was keep correcting me every time I made a mistake 😉 we do learn from our mistakes right? it’s the best way to learn something! 😉

  2. This is such a fantastic and educational post! I always wandered why avocados are considered a fruit but then again they do fit all of the botanical criteria for a berry. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and have a good weekend. Aiva 🙂

    1. Thank you very much Aiva! Yes, sometimes we’re surprised to learn that maybe some products that we always considered them as veggies are actually fruits ☺️ but no matter how they are called are always delicious and nutritious 😉
      Have a wonderful week!

      1. Absolutely! Bloggers and their blogs are the best ways to learn new things and a heap better than other forms of social media! With blogs, you don’t have to wade through a bunch of gobbledygook to get to the good stuff! 🙂

      2. Very true! Is always the best way to find what we want 😉 and then the blogging community is awesome! Can make friends all around the world 😉

  3. This is a wonderful post Ribana! You have it laid out so well, the differences between fruit and vegetables.😀😺🍎🍏🍌🍉🥝🍓🥒🥦🥔🥕

  4. Thank you for this information and the clarification on the topic of the Tomato! That has been a subject of discussion in our house for decades!

    1. Thank you so very much Rory! I’ve tried but is quite impossible this period…I guess I need to slow down for a while and then be back when the time will be more gentle with me 😆

      1. Why are you so busy? Is it work?

        i have a new blog launching this month which is an alternative business blog for topical content, perhaps you’ll be able to take part in an interview? 🙂

      2. I would be happy to be busy with hobbies but unfortunately is just work 😅
        Oh that’s great! Me, taking part in an interview? Are you kidding me? Thank you for considering me! I think nothing good will come from that but I’ll help as I can, just let me know what I need to do😉

  5. This is incredibly informative and I learned a lot of new things! I will definitely be incorporating a larger variety of fruits and vegetables into our diet! Thank you so much for making a blog about this! It’s a very interesting read!

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words! I’m glad you like it! Yes, every day we can discover so many new things 😉 if we include fruits and veggies in our daily meals, our body will only thanks us 😉

  6. Wonderfully described- The Tomatoes as Fruits vs veggies debate continues till date.
    The confusion also accentuated as some Veggies also have seeds (or don’t they).
    And we had some fried fritters consisting of eggplant(Brinjal; Hindi: Baingan)today.
    Only today, from your post did I come to know that even this is a Fruit!!
    I knew about Cucumber- because we can have a Cucumber on a Fasting day but not vegetables.
    A great post!

    1. Thank you very much! I guess the tomatoes as fruit vs vegetables debate will never end 😉
      In the end I think it doesn’t matter much as is delicious as a fruit or as a veggie 😉
      But is always nice to discover new things 😉

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