Did you know that there are several so-thought “vegetables” that are fruits? In fact, you might be surprised at how many of them might be in your pantry or fridge right now. While knowing the correct classification might not really impact your fruit and vegetable consumption, it’s good to know which of your favorites fall into the category of fruits or vegetables.
Read on for a comprehensive list of common “vegetables” that are technically classified as fruits, and make full use of your new knowledge to ensure you’re eating a balanced, healthy diet.
Why Eating Plenty Of Fruits And Vegetables Is A Good Thing
Experts agree that a solid and consistent intake of fruits and vegetables is a great thing. Making sure you’re eating right can help support your overall health. How much should you consume? Experts recommend eating about 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies each day.1,2
And it’s not just the amount you consume, either. Since different kinds of fruits and vegetables contain varying nutrient content, it’s just as important to make sure you’re eating a wide variety of both, so you’ll get the right mix of nutrients and reap their potential health benefits.3
What’s The Real Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables?
Botanically speaking, fruits are the resulting flowering or growth of a plant. They also contain the seeds of that plant. Most kinds of vegetables consist of the edible stems, leaves, or even roots of a plant (a classic example: leafy greens, like spinach and kale). From a culinary perspective, people have come to associate fruits with a sweeter flavor profile (which is why people love to cook and bake them into desserts). Vegetables are considered a more savory and hearty side dish or addition to a main meal.4
This botanical vs. culinary understanding is often what causes the confusion: Many foods fit the definition of botanical fruits, but their flavor and the way they’re cooked is more often associated with that of vegetables.
Which “Vegetables” Fall Into The Fruit Group?
With that useful definition in mind, it becomes easier to recognize which “vegetables” you usually eat are actually considered fruits, at least from a botanical point of view (your tastebuds will probably still associate them as savory vegetables, and that’s totally fine). Ready for a few surprises? Read on.
Tomatoes are perhaps the most infamous example of the “fruit or vegetable” debate. In fact, tomatoes even had to be legally declared a vegetable in the early 1800s in order to be taxed. But, since a tomato is literally plucked off the vine of the tomato plant and contains its seeds, it is technically a fruit.5
As a fruit of the nightshade family, tomatoes contain good amounts of vitamin C and potassium, while also being a good source of fiber.6
When you slice open a pepper — from the ripest, juiciest bell in any color to the spiciest finger chili — you’ll be greeted by a plethora of pepper seeds. That makes peppers a member of the fruit category.7
Bell peppers are related to tomatoes, as they both belong to the nightshade group. They offer similar potential health benefits depending on the pepper’s color and ripeness. They’re an excellent source of plant compounds that may help support good vision, brain health, and blood and heart health, too.8
That large dark-brown stone in the center of your avocado proves it’s a fruit. Regardless, it’s still a perfect, healthy addition to any tasty vegetable salad.9
Whether you consider them a fruit or vegetable, avocados do your body a lot of good. They contain good fats that may help support heart health, and they offer a good amount of dietary fiber that could help with weight loss.10
Summer And Winter Squashes (Including Pumpkins)
Butternut squash, pumpkin, and zucchini are all considered fruits. They’re dense, filling, and full of good nutrition — while generally being lower in calories and carbohydrates. And, like many orange vegetables, these squashes contain nutrients that may help support heart and vision health.11,12
A favorite addition to lists of common green vegetables (perhaps due to the color), green beans aren’t technically a vegetable at all. Green beans are considered fruit because they contain seeds within their pods (which means snow peas can be considered fruits, too).13 But while they are botanically classified as fruit, they offer practically the same nutritional benefit as leafy vegetables. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folic acid and iron — all necessary nutrients that can help support your bones, heart, and energy levels.14
Another member of the nightshade family (like tomatoes and white potatoes), you may not notice the minuscule edible seeds in your sliced eggplant, but this is why eggplant is botanically considered a fruit.15
Like many of the other fruits on this list, eggplant is low in sugar and calories and full of fiber. Diets rich in foods like eggplant, with its excellent supply of antioxidants, can help support heart health and the health of your cells.16
Cucumbers are close cousins to watermelons and cantaloupes. And surprise! Like their cousins, they’re also classified as a fruit.17
This fruit, with its high water content, is an excellent source of hydration in your diet. But cucumbers also contain plenty of beneficial, heart-healthy potassium. And the skin of the cucumber contains insoluble fibers to help support a healthy intestinal tract.18
Take Your Consumption Of Fruit To The Next Level
You may be surprised to know that a lot of your favorite vegetables are actually fruits, but it also means you’ve been getting more servings of fruit per day than you’d realized. This list is much more than trivia night fodder — it may also help you plan a more well-balanced diet, one that boosts your dietary fiber intake and inspires you to try eating an even wider variety of both fruits and vegetables.