Fruit Facts

The Real Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables

August 18, 2016

Fruits and vegetables are commonly grouped together in conversation – we’re sure someone has either told you, or you’ve told someone, “don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables!” But although they tend to go hand in hand, fruits and vegetables aren’t the same thing, and we think it’s important for you to know the difference!


Botanists, which are people who study plants, classify fruits as being something that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant – fruits are also defined as the part of a plant that contains seeds. On the other hand, all other parts of a plant are considered vegetables – think leaves, roots and the stems. If you’re ever in a debate about whether a food is a fruit or a vegetable (you’ve probably gone back and forth with someone over tomatoes before!), ask yourself whether or not it’s seed-bearing and figure out exactly which part of a plant it came from. (Spoiler alert: botanically speaking, tomatoes are FRUITS!).

Let’s stick with tomatoes as our example – if botanically they are fruits, then why do so many people refer to them as vegetables? The answer to this is that culinary definitions differ a bit from what we mentioned above.

In culinary terms, chefs consider foods that are savory (rather than sweet) to be vegetables, which is why you’ve probably come across a ton of people who are totally convinced that tomatoes are a vegetable. The same applies to other foods, such as pumpkins, zucchini and cucumbers – though they are fruits by botanical guidelines, many people think of them as vegetables because of the way that they taste.

All that said, there’s really two ways to define fruits and vegetables, and it all depends on whether you’re more interested in the botanical definition or the culinary definition. Either way, fruits and vegetables have a lot in common, particularly where nutrition is concerned – they are both great sources of vitamins and minerals, generally low in calories and fat, and high in fiber.

Let us leave you with this – how many fruits and vegetables can you name? Grab a pen and some paper and see how many you can come up with based on the definitions you learned today!