What’s the Difference Between A Fruit and A Vegetable?

Once upon a time, there lived two friends: Jack and Jill. They spent a lot of time reading stories, as well as playing and fetching pails of water from the tops of hills. They had common interests, common ideas, common opinions… basically, they agreed on absolutely everything… except one.

Jack believed that tomatoes were vegetables, but Jill refuted that belief and always maintained that a tomato was a fruit. While they could never determine the difference between a fruit and a vegetable due to their lack of the Internet at that time, we can certainly provide some insight today.

So, let’s take it from the top…

What’s a fruit?


Photo Credit: gitusik / Fotolia

This should be pretty simple, right? We all know what fruits are. They are the sour/sweet seed-containing parts of a plant/tree that are (mostly) edible, either in their raw state or after being cooked. However, from a botanical standpoint, a fruit is the seed-bearing part of a flowering plant that’s developed from the ovary after flowering. Plants have to disseminate seeds, and they do so by producing fruits. Mango, apple, grapes, guava – these are all examples of fruits derived from different plants.

What’s a vegetable?


Credits: mjaud/Shutterstock

Barring certain foods derived from plants (like fruits, cereal grains and nuts), all other edible parts of a plant fall under the category of vegetables. These may or may not play a part in a plant’s reproductive cycle. They are also typically less sweet and more savory than fruits, can be consumed raw or be cooked for meals rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and various other nutrients. Some of the most common vegetables are cabbage, potatoes, beans, spinach etc.

Those are the most basic definitions of fruits and vegetables, respectively, but people often get confused between the two when discussing certain foods, such as tomatoes, avocados and so on. So… how do you distinguish between a fruit and a vegetable?

Fruits versus Vegetables


First of all, fruits have seeds inside them… most of the time (some fruits, like strawberries, have seeds on the outside). On the other hand, vegetables do not contain seeds. That’s probably the most prominent point of distinction between the two.

Botanical standpoint? Fruits are basically the ripened ovaries of flowering plants, whereas vegetables are edible parts of a plant.

Role in reproductive cycles

water melon

The seeds of a fruit play an important role in the reproductive cycles of a plant

Fruits play a major role in the reproductive cycles of their plant, whereas vegetables do not.

Taste (sweetness)

While fruits are usually sweet with bitter seeds, vegetables sometimes have just a hint of sweetness, or are absolutely bland when consumed raw.

Nutritional value

Fruits and vegetables both have high nutritional value. However, you gain more calories when you consume fruits instead of vegetables. This is because fruits are sweet and therefore have a higher sugar content, which adds to the total calorie intake. However, there are a few starchy vegetables, like potatoes and beets, that also rank quite high in terms of calorie count.

As for the conflict of Jack and Jill, I do have an answer…

a tomato is a fruit meme


  1. How Stuff Works
  2. Live Science
  3. Indiana University Bloomington
  4. Vegetable Research & Information Center
  5. Reference
The short URL of the present article is: http://sciabc.us/oCCBG
Help us make this article better
About the Author:

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

Science ABC YouTube Videos

  1. How Does A Helicopter Work: Everything You Need To Know About Helicopters
  2. Rigor Mortis, Livor Mortis, Pallor Mortis, Algor Mortis: Forensic Science Explains Stages of Death
  3. Why Is Space Cold If There Are So Many Stars?
  4. Tensor Tympani Sound: Why Do You Hear A Rumbling Sound When You Close Your Eyes Too Hard?
  5. Hawking Radiation Explained: What Exactly Was Stephen Hawking Famous For?
  6. Current Vs Voltage: How Much Current Can Kill You?
  7. Coefficient Of Restitution: Why Certain Objects Are More Bouncy Than Others?
  8. Jump From Space: What Happens If You Do A Space Jump?