National Fruits and Vegetables Month: Fruits, Vegetables, and How to Tell Them Apart
This overly simplistic view may be why cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados tend to be lumped in with vegetables, but, in fact, are fruits. So are squashes and zucchini, green beans, peapods, pumpkins, olives, and green, red and yellow peppers.
As children grow up, knowing the difference between a fruit and a vegetable may be helpful as they learn about various food groups and categories. But how can children tell them apart if their parents are confused? The following may help parents and their kids understand the differences between a fruit and a vegetable:
- Botanically speaking, a fruit is the mature ovary of a flower, which means it contains seeds that are capable of developing into new plants. So apricots, cherries and apples are fruits, along with pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini.
- A vegetable is defined as the edible part of a plant and includes leaves (lettuce, cabbage and spinach), stems (asparagus), roots (carrots and beets), flowers (broccoli) and bulbs (garlic). "Vegetable" is a collective term used to denote all parts of herbaceous plants eaten as foods by humans. Potatoes are technically tubers, not roots, which are capable of budding into new plants.
- Most fruits are typically sweet because they contain a simple sugar called fructose, while most vegetables are less sweet because they have less fructose.
- All nuts are technically fruits because they are matured plant ovaries, although they are also classified as nuts. Instead of eating the casing which surrounds the seed, we eat the seed. In addition, grains are considered fruits because they are oversized seeds.
The simplest thing to remember is a fruit has seeds and a vegetable doesn't. Whether parents remember that a tomato or a cucumber is a fruit, they can't go wrong with including lots of healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables in their families' diet.
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