Major Differences Between Fruits And Vegetables, Nutrition, And Benefits

Written by Aparna Mallampalli

A healthy diet is key to maintaining overall health – and fruits and vegetables are an indispensable part of such a diet. But many of us are wondering which of the two we should eat more of. While both have incredible benefits, they also have certain key differences. In this article, we discuss fruits and vegetables and their health benefits in detail. You will be able to choose what’s right for you and make your meals wholesome. Continue reading.

What Is A Fruit?

To define botanically, a fruit is a mature ovary of a flowering plant. It also includes the seed and seed coat. Most fruits have a sweet or sour taste. Almost all fruits are edible.

What Is A Vegetable?

Vegetables are botanically defined as the edible tubers, leaves, stems, roots, seeds or flowers of a plant. Simply put, vegetables are any edible part of a plant that is not a fruit.

Both fruits and vegetables are ideal for daily consumption. However, understanding their nutrient information helps you fill your plate effectively. Continue reading to know about the nutritional values of fruits and vegetables.

Nutritional Values Of Fruits And Vegetables

Most fruits taste sweet as they are rich in natural sugars. They also are a little higher in calories when compared to vegetables. However, both are rich in vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Each category of vegetables and fruits has different nutrients and they may also slightly differ in their calorific values. As per research, following are the nutritional values per 100 grams of fruits and vegetables.

NutrientsFruits (g)Leafy vegetables (g)Roots and tubers (g)
Water61.0–89.184.3–94.762.3–94.6
Protein0.5–1.10.2–3.90.1–4.9
FatTrace–4.40.2–1.40.1–0.4
Sugar4.4–34.81.5–4.90.5–9.5
StarchTrace–3.00.1–0.811.8–31.4
Dietary fiber2.0–14.81.2–4.01.1–9.5
Energy, kcal90–64665–177297–525
MicronutrientsVitamin C, K, Mg, carotenoidsVitamin C, folate, carotenoids, Ca, FeVitamin E, carotenoids, Fe, vitamin K, Ca
Toxic constituentsCyanogenetic glycosides in seedsGlucosinolatesGlycoalkaloids

Additionally, fruits and vegetables also differ in a few other aspects. Continue reading to know more.

The Difference Between Fruits And Vegetables

FruitsVegetables
Fruits majorly have a sweet or tangy flavor.Vegetables have a bland or slightly peppery flavor.
Fruits can mostly be eaten raw.Only a few vegetables can be consumed raw. Most others need to be cooked.
Most fruits have a high water content.Leafy vegetables have a higher water content when compared to fruits.
Fruits have a higher sugar and calorie content.Vegetables are low in calories and sugar content.
The shelf life of fruits is short even if they are refrigerated.The shelf life of vegetables is comparatively longer than that of fruits, if refrigerated (however, refrigerating them for more than 10 days may negatively affect their nutritional values).
Most fruits contain seeds.Most vegetables do not contain seeds and the seeds in few vegetables are not fully developed.
Mostly used in desserts, juices, or smoothies.Majorly used for culinary purposes in different cuisines.
All fruits, except bananas, can be refrigerated to increase their shelf life. Do not cut them into pieces to retain the taste. Store the fruits in separate plastic or glass containers.Not all vegetables can be refrigerated. Some vegetables like onions, potatoes, and garlic must be stored in a clean, dry place. Do not refrigerate the chopped vegetables as they may lose their nutrients and exert an unpleasant odor in the refrigerator.

 Do remember not to refrigerate cut fruits or vegetables. Doing so may cause them to lose their nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables are available in various types. We have elaborated the same below.

Types Of Fruits And Vegetables

Fruits

Fruits are majorly classified into the following categories.

  • Pome Fruits: Pome fruits are fleshy fruits with an outer thickened fleshy layer and a central core with usually five seeds enclosed in a capsule. Studies have shown that these fruits can be stored at 0 to 4° C. Major fruits in this category are apples and pears.
  • Berries: These fruits are especially known for their taste and soft texture. Research shows that berries are a good source of vitamin C, polyphenols, and flavonoids that positively affect overall health. Major fruits under this category include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, and passionfruit.
  • Stone Fruits: These fruits are also known as drupes. They contain a “stone” or a “pit.” The actual seed is found inside the stone. A study shows that stone fruits are rich in phytochemicals. Cherries, apricots, peaches, and plums are the major fruits in this category.
  • Melons: Melons are especially known for their unique flavor and sweetness. They are rich in water and essential vitamins. Research shows that they also contain endorphins that promote sleep and happiness. Watermelons, rockmelons, and honeydew melons fall into this category.
  • Tropical Fruits: These fruits are particularly native to a tropical area and are rich in many beneficial nutrients. Research shows that these enrich the diet with antioxidants. Guava, coconut, papaya, and jackfruit are the major examples in this category.
  • Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits are especially rich in vitamin C. Research shows that the metabolites in citrus fruits have many beneficial effects. Oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, and limes are the major fruits in this category.

Vegetables

Vegetables are available in many varieties and can be classified into the following.

  • Leafy Greens: Leafy greens are especially known for their low-calorie profile. Research shows that leafy greens are rich in dietary fiber, folate, ascorbic acid, vitamin K, and magnesium. Major examples include lettuce, spinach, and silverbeet.
  • Edible Plant Stems: Vegetables with edible stems are nutrient-dense. Major examples include celery and asparagus. A study has shown that celery and asparagus are rich in vitamins, dietary fiber, and many other beneficial nutrients. Moreover, they are also believed to promote cardiovascular health.
  • Marrow: This category majorly includes different types of squash with tender skin. Most marrow vegetables are bland and serve as a great side dish. Major examples in this category include pumpkin, cucumber, and zucchini. A study has proven that zucchini has anti-cancer properties.
  • Roots: These vegetables especially grow under the ground and are classified as root vegetables. Potato, carrots, and beets are the major vegetables in this category. Research shows that these are rich sources of vitamin A, C, and antioxidants.
  • Cruciferous: This category of vegetables majorly belongs to the cabbage family. They are gaining popularity because of their beneficial nutrients. Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are the major vegetables in this category. Research shows that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cancer.
  • Allium: This category contains vegetables used for their unique odor and taste in culinary practices. Onion, garlic, and shallot are the well-known vegetables in this category. Research shows that regular consumption of these vegetables helps reduce the risk of cancer. Garlic is especially beneficial for people with diabetes and hypertension.

A few vegetables we use daily are actually fruits. To define botanically, they originate from a flower and contain seeds. Read on to know which fruits are used as vegetables for culinary purposes.

Fruits That Are Commonly Misclassified as Vegetables

  • Tomato
  • Pumpkin
  • Peppers
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Olives
  • Okra

Irrespective of the category they fall into, both fruits and vegetables offer important benefits. Continue reading to know more.

Health Benefits Of Fruits

Fruits are replete with nutrients and dietary fiber. They offer many benefits when consumed regularly in recommended amounts. Following are the benefits of regular fruit consumption, as per research.

1. May Promote Gastrointestinal Health

Studies have shown that whole fruits contain adequate amounts of dietary fiber. This dietary fiber helps promote gastrointestinal health and also manages constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticular disease. Hence, consuming fruits regularly as part of a healthy diet promotes gastrointestinal health and helps manage constipation.

2. May Promote Weight Loss

Research shows that regular intake of fruits has a beneficial effect on weight loss and BMI. However, consumption of whole fruits must be considered over fruit juice as fiber may be lost during processing.

3. May Help Manage Diabetes

Fruits have fewer calories than other processed, high-GI foods. They make an excellent substitute for such foods and can fit as a snack – and may help reduce the risk of diabetes. Research shows that blueberry intake had significantly reduced the risk of diabetes. Including fruits in your diet may also help prevent other diabetes complications like obesity.

4. May Reduce The Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome

Studies show that the risk of metabolic syndrome can be managed by regular consumption of fruits. Metabolic syndrome is caused by excess consumption of high-calorie foods and a sedentary lifestyle. It is directly linked to conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

5. May Help Manage Depression

Research shows that regular consumption of fruits may decrease the risk of depression in adults and kids. Depression is usually associated with a high intake of calorie-laden foods and a sedentary lifestyle. Hence, substituting it with low-calorie foods, like fruits, may have a positive impact on one’s overall psychological health. However, the evidence in this regard is limited.

Health Benefits Of Vegetables

Vegetables take the major portion among most cuisines of the world. A diet loaded with different vegetables has many benefits.

1. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer

Studies show that a diet rich in vegetables can significantly reduce cancer risk. This is especially true with a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables, which may effectively reduce the risk of colon, rectum, and thyroid cancers. Eating at least 10 grams of vegetables in a day may have important benefits.

2. May Help Manage Diabetes

Vegetables are highly beneficial in managing blood glucose levels. Research states that allium vegetables, like onions, can control glucose levels. These vegetables are high in inulin, a compound known to reduce blood glucose levels. Including them in your diet may help lower diabetes risk.

3. May Help Boost Immunity

Vegetables are replete with beneficial nutrients and they help boost immunity. Studies show that a diet including peppers can significantly boost immunity and also help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers. Additionally garlic and onions also promote immunity. Hence, including these vegetables in your diet may have beneficial effects on your immunity.

4. May Promote Skin Health

Many vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are rich in vitamin C. Research has shown that vitamin C has many beneficial effects on skin health. A study also has shown that the lycopene in tomatoes may have beneficial effects on the skin. Try including these veggies in combination with others to reap the maximum benefits.

5. May Help With Weight Loss

Vegetables are rich in dietary fiber. Studies suggest that dietary fiber promotes satiety. It reduces food intake and may promote weight loss. Research has shown that a diet rich in potatoes may significantly reduce appetite, and may potentially promote weight loss. Try including them in your regular diet in combination with leafy greens to get maximum benefits.

Conclusion

A wholesome meal is not complete without fruits and vegetables. Including them in your diet benefits your overall health in multiple ways. A minimum of two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables are considered ideal. But the more you can have, the better. Ensure you make fruits and vegetables a major part of your daily diet. Regular intake can offer you important long-term benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a banana a fruit or a vegetable?

Botanically defining, bananas are berries – and are classified as fruits.

Is carrot a fruit?

No, carrot is not a fruit. It is a vegetable. However, its moderately sweet taste finds use in the preparation of carrot jam (in combination with sugar or honey).

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Aparna is a professor-turned-content writer with over 5 years of experience in life sciences. Her passion for writing and interest in the healthcare and wellness industry pushed her toward a career in content writing. She has a master’s in Microbiology and aims to use her knowledge of life sciences to break down complex information into easily understandable content for the readers. When she’s not working, Aparna loves cooking and collecting keychains.