We all know we should eat more Fruits and Vegetables. But, which ones give us the biggest nutritional punch? Most people know that fruits and vegetables are good for them. But, not as many of them are familiar with the main difference between vegetables and fruits. As such, you can follow my leads in order to learn and discover more.
You probably have a pretty good concept of which foods are considered fruits and which are considered vegetables, at least in culinary terms. In terms of structure, taste, and nutrition, there are many distinctions between fruits and vegetables. So, how are fruits and vegetables different?
Fruits and vegetables are classified from both a botanical and culinary standpoint. On one hand, botanically, fruits and vegetables are classified depending on which part of the plant they come from. A fruit develops from the flower of a plant, while the other parts of the plant are categorized as vegetables.
What Are Fruits?
In botany, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure in flowering plants that is formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate their seeds. So, in simple words, they are the fleshy or dry ripened ovary of a flowering plant, enclosing the seed or seeds. Thus, apricots, bananas, and grapes, as well as bean pods, corn grains, tomatoes, cucumbers, and (in their shells) acorns and almonds, are all technically fruits.
What Are Vegetables?
Naturally, Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is applied to plants collectively to refer to all edible plant matter, including flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds.
Fruits contain seeds, while vegetables can consist of roots, stems, and leaves. On the other hand, from a culinary perspective, fruits and vegetables are classified based on taste. Fruits generally have a sweet or tart flavor and can be used in desserts, snacks, or juices.
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Not to mention, vegetables have a more mild or savory taste and are usually eaten as part of a side dish or main course. However, there are several plants that are technically fruits.
Although they’re often classified as vegetables because of their taste. Tomatoes, for instance, are the most well-known and controversial examples of this. Actually, in 1893, the US Supreme Court actually ruled that tomatoes should be classified as vegetables.
Rather than just fruits under US customs regulations. On that note, there are other common examples of fruits that are mistaken for vegetables.
- Winter squash
Botanically speaking, tomatoes fit the definition of a fruit. However, they’re still commonly referred to as vegetables because of their flavor profile.
How Fruits And Vegetables Compare Nutritionally
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of similarities in terms of nutrition. And, one thing is for sure, both are high in fiber as well as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds. Naturally, they are also low in sodium and fat.
As you might expect given their sweet taste, fruits tend to have a higher amount of natural sugar and calories compared to most varieties of vegetables. One cup of apples, for example, contains 65 calories and 13 grams of sugar. While one cup of broccoli has just 31 calories and 2 grams of sugar.
Compared to vegetables, some types of fruits may also contain more fiber per gram. The fiber content per 100 grams for fruit ranges from 2 to 15 grams. At the same time, leafy green vegetables supply 1.2 to 4 grams of fiber for the same weight (2Trusted Source).
The water content is also highly variable. Leafy vegetables may be composed of 84–95% water, while fruits contain slightly less, with between 61–89% (2Trusted Source). There are some nutrient differences among different categories of fruits and vegetables, as well.
Below are a few nutrition highlights:
- Leafy greens: A good source of carotenoids like lutein, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
- Cruciferous vegetables: Contain glucosinolates, a group of compounds that have been linked to the prevention of cancer (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
- Tubers: Rich in fiber, plus a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and B vitamins (5Trusted Source).
- Berries: Full of anthocyanins, anti-inflammatory compounds that have been studied for their ability to reduce oxidative stress and promote heart health (9Trusted Source).
- Citrus fruits: High in vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, and antioxidants that could offer protection against degenerative disease (6Trusted Source).
Including a good mix of fruits and vegetables in your diet can ensure you’re getting a diverse range of nutrients. This means that both vegetables and fruits are an important part of a healthy diet. And, variety is as important as quantity. No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. Thus, you need to eat plenty every day.
The Overall Benefits Of Fruits And Vegetables
There is a good amount of research documenting the many benefits of fruit and vegetable intake on health. Several studies have found that eating more of them is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. Particularly, from 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, and 14 Trusted Source.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease and even stroke. As well as prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect on blood sugar. Overall, which can help keep appetite in check.
Fruits and vegetables contain fiber which is important to keep you full, keep digestion normal, and has been linked to decreasing the risk and effects of several diseases. Including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. They also contain many essential vitamins and minerals.
More so, that your body cannot produce on its own; this is what makes you feel healthy and energized.
Fruits And Vegetables Help Fight:
- Blood Pressure
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Cancer-Causing Agents
- Gastrointestinal Health Issues
- Obesity, Diabetes, and Overweight
- The Risk of Cataracts
Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits like apples, pears, and green leafy vegetables may even promote weight loss. Their low glycemic loads prevent blood sugar spikes that can increase hunger. One study even found that eating more than three servings per day slashed the risk of heart disease by 70% (15Trusted Source).
Because fruits and vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber, they could even help keep your weight under control. Another similar study followed 133,000 people over a 24-year span. It showed that when people increased their intake of fruits and non-starchy vegetables, their weight tended to decrease (16Trusted Source).
Replacing your higher-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables (which tend to be lower in calories) can lead to a lower calorie intake. This in turn will also decrease the risk of weight gain, which is associated with several diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure.
So, Which Of Them Should You Be Eating Daily?
Increasing your fiber intake through fruits and vegetables may even reduce your risk of cancer. Multiple studies have found that higher fruit and vegetable consumption is linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
By all means, fruit and vegetable intake may benefit your blood sugar. The fiber from these foods slows the absorption of sugar, which can keep blood sugar levels steady. One study showed that an increase in fruit and vegetable intake can actually lead to a reduction in the development of diabetes (19Trusted Source).
Note that these results applied to fruits and vegetables, but not fruit juice. Fruit juice provides a concentrated dose of the vitamins, minerals, and sugars found in fruit, but without the fiber and the health benefits that come with it. Below are the topmost fruits and vegetables you should consider:
Blueberries contain antioxidants, specifically anthocyanidins, which is a flavonoids connected with cognitive ability. These little nuggets also contain Vitamin K1, which helps with blood clotting, as well as Vitamin C and manganese, a mineral associated with the metabolism of amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.
2. Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers come in a multitude of colors – green, yellow, orange, and red. They are full of Vitamin A, folate, and potassium. One pepper can provide 169 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants called carotenoids that help with eye health.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, to name a few. They contain phytochemicals, vitamins A, C, and E, folate, and fiber. They also contain antioxidants that can protect against cancer.
4. Leafy Green Vegetables
Spinach, kale, and bok choy are among these nutritional powerhouses. Packed with Vitamin B and calcium, leafy greens can help lower cholesterol, improve bone health and prevent colon cancer.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an anti-oxidant, as well as beta-carotene. They are also packed with Vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. They are believed to improve heart health, and skin health and prevent cancer.
Bananas are rich in fiber, potassium, and Vitamins C and B6. They contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that promote heart health. They also help the brain to produce dopamine, which can improve mood.
7. Citrus Fruits
The Vitamin C champions, including oranges, grapefruit, limes, and lemons, also contain B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper, as well as anti-oxidants. Make sure you eat the whole fruit instead of juice to get the benefits of fiber. As well, grapefruit can interact with many prescription medications, so check with your doctor.
Garlic is known to prevent and reduce the effects of colds, and improve blood pressure and cholesterol. Its active ingredient, allicin, is also found in onions. It also contains selenium, magnesium, and Vitamins B6 and C.
Olives, like olive oil, are high in Vitamin E, iron, copper, and calcium. They contain antioxidants and healthy fats. Avoid olives soaked in brine if you’re watching your sodium levels.
Notably, Ginger contains natural oil, called gingerol, that has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger can help a host of problems, including tummy upsets and muscle pain and soreness. It may help with osteoarthritis, high blood sugar, and heart disease risk factors.
Tips to eat more vegetables and fruits each day
- Keep fruit where you can see it. Place several ready-to-eat washed whole fruits in a bowl or store chopped colorful fruits in a glass bowl in the refrigerator to tempt a sweet tooth.
- Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety and color are key to a healthy diet. On most days, try to get at least one serving from each of the following categories: dark green leafy vegetables; yellow or orange fruits and vegetables; red fruits and vegetables; legumes (beans) and peas; and citrus fruits.
- Skip the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with different nutrients and more slowly digested carbohydrates.
- Make it a meal. Try cooking new recipes that include more vegetables. Salads, soups, and stir-fries are just a few ideas for increasing the number of tasty vegetables in your meals.
The Bottom Line;
Botanically, there is a distinct difference between fruits and vegetables. However, they both come with an impressive set of nutrients and health benefits. From decreasing your risk of chronic disease to slimming your waistline.
At least ten different families of fruits and vegetables exist, each with potentially hundreds of different plant compounds that are beneficial to health. Eat a variety of types and colors of produce in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. This not only ensures greater diversity of beneficial plant chemicals but also creates eye-appealing meals.
Current guidelines recommend getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, with 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit. In the end, the classification of fruits and vegetables isn’t as important as eating a variety of both to take advantage of the diverse nutrients they provide.
Finally, I hope the above-revised guide was helpful in your next dietary plan. But, if you’ll additional contributions or questions, please Contact Us, or simply, leave your insights in our comments section below. You can also donate in order to support what we do and even motivate our research team for their great work.