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Science Made Simple
by TaLonne Mefford

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What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

When you think of fruits, you probably think of things like apples, oranges, and strawberries. Vegetables are things like cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce. Other than the sign at the grocery store, how do we know a fruit is a fruit and a vegetable is a vegetable?

A fruit is the part of the plant that has developed from a flower and has seeds. The function of the fruit is to bear seeds, which helps in the growth of more plants. That means eggplants, cucumbers, corn, and peas are really fruit. Believe it or not, even hard, dry nuts are technically fruit.

Vegetables refer to the edible portions of a plant. These portions include the leaves (as in lettuce), stalks (celery), roots (carrots), bulbs (onions), and flowers (broccoli). If you are arguing that the fruit is an edible portion of the plant, you are right. The only difference is that the fruit will separate from the plant eventually, so that the seeds can develop into a new plant.

The common misconception is that the fruit is only the sweet and soft part of a plant. The rest of the plant is the vegetable. The tomato I thought was a vegetable is not a vegetable at all. It is a fruit.

When you try to get your healthy balance of fruits and vegetables for the day, make sure you know exactly what you are taking in. A simple rule of thumb is to find out whether it has seeds or not. If it does, it is probably a fruit.

Both fruits and vegetables are required as part of your daily diet. Fruits provide you with your daily dose of antioxidants, vitamin C and all the fiber you need. The nutritious value of vegetables cannot be ignored either. Vegetables provide you with the roughage you need in your diet. Vegetables also provide you with vitamins and proteins. A diet without vegetables will leave you malnourished and lacking in essential proteins and vitamins. In general, vegetables have less sugar content compared to fruits. Vegetables also provide more fiber compared to fruits.


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