There are many different vegetables that each have their own benefits to the human body. Whether it be spinach, asparagus, avocado, or celery, it’s no secret that a vegetable-heavy diet is one that’s good for your body, in more ways than one.
Now if you read that first paragraph and thought there was nothing wrong with it, read again. Here’s a hint: one of the “vegetables” mentioned actually doesn’t belong there. And it’s not because it’s a vegetable that’s somehow NOT healthy – one of them isn’t a vegetable at all, but a fruit!
Actually, there are quite a few fruits that we mistake as vegetables, whether it be because of their appearance, flavor, or just word of mouth.
You’ve probably guessed at this point that avocado is the odd one out. And if you didn’t, don’t worry about it – there are lots of people out there that do believe that avocados are vegetables. Besides, can you blame them? Avocados aren’t exactly the sweet fleshy plant-based foods like the apples and pears we’re familiar with.
So how does one tell the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? We’ll give you the answer to that, as well as some fruits that are commonly mistaken for vegetables, in the next few sections. So read on to get yourself informed, and hope you won’t end up making a fool of yourself in the future (because God knows we have).
What’s The Difference Between A Fruit And A Vegetable, Anyway?
If you think that the difference between a fruit and a vegetable is the sweetness of the food, then you’ve probably lived a lie your entire life. That’s because fruits and vegetables aren’t classified by an arbitrary and somewhat subjective criterion of taste. In fact, the classification is a lot simpler than you think.
What separates fruit from a vegetable is the presence of seeds – more specifically, it’s a structure that grows from the plant’s ovaries. Vegetables, on the other hand, are from every other part of the plant, be it leaves, roots, or stems. Pretty straightforward, right?
That’s why the avocado, presumed by many to be a vegetable due to its non-fruitlike taste, is actually considered a fruit. So when in doubt, just remember – if it has seeds, it’s a fruit, and anything else is simply a vegetable. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Even rare fruits and vegetables follow the same rule!
Now that you know what’s a fruit and what’s a vegetable, you’re probably jogging your memory to find out the food you once thought were vegetables are in fact just misunderstood fruit. You don’t have to do that, though, since we’re doing it for you – here are some examples of fruits that you’ve probably once thought of as no more vegetables.
Fruits We Think Are Vegetables
Anyone who’s festive enough and made a jack-o-lantern for Halloween probably already knows this by now, but pumpkins are actually fruits and not vegetables – that goes for all the other gourds related to the pumpkin as well, such as the bitter gourd. You can tell it’s one if you’ve carved a pumpkin yourself, as the insides contain pumpkin seeds.
Aside from its annual use as a spooky source of light, pumpkins are used in a lot of different recipes, including the classic pumpkin pie. It’s loved for its earthy yet sweet taste, though that’s probably what got people into treating it as a vegetable in the first place.
Okay, we admit that not a lot of people consider tomatoes as vegetables in the first place, but no one would dare put actual fruit in a lettuce salad, right? The only people I’m guessing who would presume tomatoes were vegetables are the same people who don’t pick up salad in a buffet – which is a shame since salads are divine.
With tomatoes used in everything from salad and side-dish to ketchup and sauce, it’s understandable that people would still consider tomatoes as vegetables. I don’t think there’s any other kind of fruit that would go well as a ketchup or sauce, except for maybe banana (yes, banana ketchup is a thing).
Peppers (Sweet, Chilli, Capsicum)
This one was pretty surprising when we first learned about this too. I mean, tomatoes make sense, but peppers sound like a stretch right? Nope. The same pepper that’s used to spice up your hot wings and burn your tongue senseless is, in fact, a bona fide fruit.
So the next time you ask for some hot sauce at your local pizzeria, remember that you’re actually asking for really, really spicy fruit paste. It turns out we’ve been consuming a lot more fruit than we thought.
Here’s a really unexpected fruit – the eggplant. Though the fruit looks nothing like the chicken eggs from the grocery store (nor taste like them), the Europeans who discovered it found the variety that was white and had the shape and size of goose eggs, hence the name.
The name didn’t age well, though, with the most common cucumber variant being the elongated purple fruit we have today.
And here’s an even bigger twist – not only are eggplants fruit – they’re also berries. So in summary, we have a plant named after an egg that tastes like a vegetable but is actually a fruit, specifically a berry. If that’s not the most confusing fruit in the world, I don’t know what is.
You might think that the surprises stop there, but you haven’t seen anything yet. Even corn, one of the most popular and widely grown crops today, is considered a fruit.
And it’s not just one fruit per stalk – each little nub or piece of corn that grows on a corn’s ear is a fruit in itself, so whenever you take a bite out of corn, you’re biting into tens of fruit, even hundreds if your mouth’s big enough.
Sweet corn’s popularity lies in its flexibility. You can make anything from cereals and chips to oils and syrups with this fruit. It’s also a great source of carbohydrates, making it a staple food for many people around the world.
Have you ever tried okra? It’s that green food that’s shaped like a large pepper, only when you bite into it you get slimy juices instead of a burning tongue.
Also known by its alternate name of ladies’ fingers, okra is one fruit no one would have guessed was a vegetable unless they knew how the classification of fruits worked.
Other than being that slightly gross food you rarely touched in the dinner table as a kid unless told to, okra packs a ton of benefits. It’s a good source of both Vitamin C and potassium and has some dietary fiber in it to boot. It’s definitely worth giving a second chance if you didn’t like it before.
No, we’re not joking. Even beans, the food that’s usually associated with an uneasy stomach (if you know what I mean) is actually a fruit. “But aren’t beans legumes?” I hear you ask.
And yes, beans are legumes, but legumes, in general, are just seeds that are stored in pods – and what do you know, that fits the definition of fruits perfectly.
Don’t plan on having beans in your diet? Think again. Beans are packed with B vitamins as well as other vitamins and minerals. And like okra, they’re full of dietary fibers too. If eating them on their own isn’t doing it for you, try having them as part of a dish, such as a burrito.
Another fruit that you wouldn’t expect to be a vegetable at all is the humble olive. This salty food contains seeds and is, therefore, a fruit – more specifically, a stone fruit.
Stone fruits are special types of fruit with at “stone” in the center that houses the seed inside. Olives are commonly classified as green or black, with black olives being saltier than the mild green olives.
If you’re like a lot of people, your first encounter with olives is through it being a topping in pizza. So technically, fruit can go well with pizza – take that, pineapple pizza haters.
We started this article with the revelation of avocado as fruit, but haven’t really tackled it until now. Avocados have recently become popular, especially among the younger generations, for the number of nutrients you can get from a single serving – vitamins, minerals, even omega-3 fatty acids – it’s all in one convenient fruit. Its unique taste makes it a great addition to toast, too.
The origin of the name “avocado”, though, may not be as appetizing. The name comes from the word “ahuacatl”, which means “testicles” in Aztec. You can probably tell why they named the avocado that way.
To many people, fruits have been, and always will be, sweet, juicy pieces of plant-based food, and anything else is nothing but a vegetable. We now know that this is not the case, and even “vegetables” such as okra and peppers actually belong to the same category as cherries and oranges.
Even if this information isn’t life-changing at all by any means, it’s always good to know something you didn’t before.