Fruits and Vegetables: What is the Main Difference for Health

People often associate fruits with sweetness and vegetables with savory flavor. Fruits and vegetables are made up of different parts. Fruits come from the flowering part of the plant and contain seeds. Vegetables, on the other hand, are the edible parts of the plant, such as leaves, stems, roots, and bulbs.

People often associate fruits with sweetness and vegetables with savory flavor. While this is often true, botanists classify some savory foods as fruits, such as tomatoes.

Often mistaken fruits and vegetables

Savory fruits and sweet vegetables sometimes cause confusion when classifying them. In addition, botanists and culinary experts disagree on the classification of some fruits and vegetables, which further complicates the issue.

Botanists classify fruits and vegetables based on which part of the plant they come from. However, chefs use a flavor profile, such as sweet or salty, to decide whether a product is a vegetable or a fruit.

Below are some fruits and vegetables that fall into two different categories and that people often confuse.


Although technically a tomato is a fruit. According to botanists, many people consider it a vegetable because of its savory flavor.

The FoodData Central (FDC), the US government’s central nutrient database, classifies tomatoes as a vegetable. However, a tomato grows from a plant flower and has seeds, making it a fruit.


According to the NRC, cucumbers are also vegetables. However, cucumbers come from planted flowers. They also have seeds that can be classified as fruits.


People may think of rhubarb as a fruit because of its distinctive flavor and role in various baked goods. Although the FDC also classifies it as a fruit, botanists disagree. The part of rhubarb that people eat is the stem, making it a vegetable, not a fruit.

Green beans

Most people consider green beans to be vegetables, and the FDC agrees. However, green beans grow from the flower of their plant, and they contain beans, which are their seeds. This makes them a fruit.

Bell peppers

Sweet peppers have seeds inside and grow from the flower of the plant, turning it into a fruit. However, the FDC classifies them as a vegetable.

Nutritional profiles

Regardless of their technical classification, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Many experts say that when trying to follow a nutrient-rich diet, a person should strive to “eat the rainbow”. This is because colorful vegetables contain vital nutrients, and their different shades indicate different nutrient profiles. A varied diet offers a range of vitamins and minerals, which helps people maintain a nutritious diet.

For example, red and orange vegetables are rich in antioxidants and carotenoids. Blue or purple vegetables are rich in anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Meanwhile, dark leafy greens are an excellent source of calcium, fiber, and carotenoids.

Fruits also contain various beneficial nutrients. For example, many citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and limes, contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps body tissues grow and repair.

Health benefits of fruits compared to vegetables

Both fruits and vegetables are good for your health.

Bone health

People need calcium to build and maintain strong bones. This is naturally found in broccoli and dark leafy greens like kale, a reliable source of bok choy and collard greens. Oranges and dried figs also contain significant amounts of the mineral.

Immune health

Vitamin C plays an important role in the body’s ability to heal damaged tissue.

Fruits high in this vitamin include:

  • orange
  • strawberries
  • sweet pepper
  • kiwi
  • Digestion.

Both fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. However, people need to consume foods whole, not in juice form, to get as much fiber as possible.

Fiber prevents blood sugar spikes by slowing down the digestion process and helps the digestive system to function properly. Broccoli, zucchini, pears, and apples, among other foods, are rich in fiber.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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