What’s the Difference Between Vegetables and Fruit?
Say you’ve decided to order fruits from Pittman & Davis, either for yourself or as a fruits gift for someone else. But before you send fruits as a gift to someone, ask yourself this: how do you know if what you’re order is a fruit? How do you know it’s not a vegetable?
You probably already know that, technically, tomatoes are fruits (even though the United States Supreme Court ruled they should be classified as vegetables under US Customs Regulations). The same holds true for cucumbers, green beans, olives, peppers, and winter and summer squashes, to name just a few. Conversely, rhubarb, which tastes “fruity,” is actually a vegetable.
Confused? We don’t blame you – most people tend to think of fruits as tasting sweet and vegetables as tasting savory. As a consumer, you’re probably going to fine going with that distinction 99% of the time (that includes when you’re looking to mail order fruit). If you’re interested in the botanical distinctions between those edibles we label fruits and vegetables, however, read on.
As stated above, fruits and vegetables tend to be classified as sweet and savory from a consumer standpoint, though some fruits (like tomatoes) are more on the savory side, and some vegetables (like sweet potatoes) are tend to be sweet. In fact, whether what you’re eating is a fruit or vegetable depends on what part of the plant it came from.
Most botanists will tell you that there are two criteria for an edible botanical to be classified as a fruit: firstly, it has to grow on the plant, as opposed to being a part of the plant. Secondly, the edible growing on the plant also has to contain the means by which the plant gets its seeds out into the world. Oranges and grapefruits are a good example of fruits because they meet both criteria – they grow on the tree and they contain seeds which in turn will grow into other trees.
A vegetable, on the other hand, is the edible portion of a plant. Vegetables are usually grouped according to the portion of the plant that is eaten such as leaves (lettuce), stems (celery), roots (carrot), tubers (potato), bulbs (onion) and flowers (broccoli). This means that if you sign up to receive fruit boxes from Pittman & Davis each month, at least one of those is sure to contain sweet onions, which are veggies and not fruits.
Which is better for you: Fruits or Vegetables?
While both fruits and vegetables are naturally high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds and lower in sodium and fat, vegetables edge out fruit when it comes to which is healthiest because they tend to be much lower in calories and natural sugars.
Unlike fruits, most vegetables have an anti-inflammatory effect and are also antibacterial. Leafy green vegetables are the best sources of certain carotenoids associated with healthy brain aging and a lower risk of cataract and macular degeneration. Carotenoids are also need for healthy skin and immune function. Also, you won’t find the glucosinolates, which are anti-cancer phytochemicals in fruits – these can only be found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
This doesn’t mean you should give up the idea of sending fruit gifts to your loved ones, or ordering gourmet fruits for yourself – eating a mix of fruits and vegetables is the best way to consume a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. In fact, the USDA recommends that we get our Fabulous Five by eating three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. It’s also important to eat different types of fruit and vegetables, as they contain different nutrients. A balanced and varied diet is essential for an optimal supply of all important vitamins, minerals, and secondary plant substances.
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