What’s the Difference Between Fruit & Vegetables?

By: The Hale Groves Team | On: | Category: Fruit Facts
fruit and vegetables

Quick – what’s your favorite fruit?

Did you think of one of the delectable orchard or citrus fruits you may have received in your most recent gift fruit basket from Hale Groves? Oranges, Honeybells, Grapefruits, Apples and Pears are all popular for their sweet flavor, health benefits, and snackability (a piece of fresh fruit is just as satisfying as a sugar-laden doughnut – in fact, more so!).

There’s a pretty good chance you didn’t say your favorite fruit is eggplant (for all you may love it). After all, eggplant isn’t a fruit – it’s a vegetable. Isn’t it?

Actually – no, eggplant is a fruit. So are tomatoes. In fact, so are peppers, cucumbers, olives, and many varieties of squash as well as a number of other edible plants we think of as veggies. Botanically speaking, all of the above are fruits. But you’re not likely to find any of them in a gift fruit basket because, for culinary purposes, they’re also vegetables.

Let’s talk about why:

What Makes a Fruit a Fruit and a Vegetable a Vegetable

Botanically speaking, the definitions are simple: if it developed from a plant’s flower and contains seeds, it’s a fruit. If it’s a root, stem, or leaf, it’s a vegetable.

Most people differentiate between fruits and vegetables, however, based on how they taste and how they’re used in cooking. If it has a sweet or tart flavor (like Grove Navel Oranges, Ruby Red Grapefruit, or Petite Florida Peaches), we think of it as a fruit. While plants that are considered fruits can be used in savory main dishes (like Sumo Citrus Glazed Salmon or Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwiches), they’re most often used to make desserts, juices, and cocktails.

Tomatoes are more likely to be considered basket fruit than avocados as they are one of the most popular homegrown edibles of amateur gardeners (cucumbers and pea pods, also fruits, are almost as universal). But in terms of cooking (especially side dishes and entrees), their milder, more savory taste qualifies them as vegetables.

This is not to say that all vegetables are savory. Some vegetables have a naturally sweeter flavor that’s more conducive to dessert or sweet side dishes. Sweet potatoes and yams are often served as a sweet side dish for American Thanksgiving, while rhubarb is a popular pie vegetable with a flavor reminiscent of strawberries.

How Fruits & Vegetables Differ Nutritionally

We’re talking about the botanical definition here, so the rules here apply to those fruits that are considered vegetables in the culinary world as well as fruits that you’ll find in Hale Groves fruit basket deliveries.

Fruits and veggies are both very nutritious. Both are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and low in fat and calories. Fruits do tend to be higher in calories than vegetables because they are higher in natural sugars (the exception being starchy vegetables such as beets and potatoes). On the plus side, fruits also tend to be higher in fiber than vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide the most nutrition when eaten raw (and fresh). Most weight loss and diet plans recommend high portions of fruits and veggies over processed food.

Everyone should have at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Since different types of fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients, you should include a variety of both in your daily diet.

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