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Fruit
or
vegetable
Do you know the difference?
According to
botanists (those
who study plants)
a fruit is the part
of the plant that
develops from a
flower. It’s also the
section of the plant
that contains the
seeds. The other
parts of plants
are considered
vegetables. These
include the stems,
leaves and roots
- and even the
flower bud.
The following are technically fruits:
avocado, beans, peapods, corn kernels,
cucumbers, grains, nuts, olives peppers,
pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds and
tomatoes. Vegetables include celery (stem),
lettuce (leaves), cauliflower and broccoli
(buds), and beets, carrots and potatoes
(roots).
From a culinary standpoint, vegetables
are less sweet — or more savory — and
served as part of the main dish. Fruits are
more sweet and tart and are most often
served as a dessert or snack. Both fruits
and vegetables can be made into juice
for a refreshing beverage. Some fruits are
“grains” or “nuts” or “seeds” — and are
served accordingly.
Nutritionally speaking, fruits and
vegetables are similar. Compared with
animal products, they’re generally lower
in calories and fat, but higher in fiber.
Fruits and vegetables also contain health-
enhancing plant compounds such as
antioxidants. And they’re loaded with
vitamins and minerals.
One serving (half a cup) of most fruits
has a bit more calories than one serving
of vegetables. Exceptions would be dense,
starchy vegetables such as potatoes or beets.
One thing that is simple to understand
about fruit and vegetables is that most
people don’t eat enough of them. According
to the Dietary Guidelines, you should aim
for two or more cups of fruit a day, and two
and one-half cups of vegetables. The usual
adult eats one cup of fruit and about one
and a half cups of vegetables a day.
In fact, there’s been a decline in
consumption of fruit and vegetables.
Between 1999 and 2008, the actual
number of servings of fruit and vegetables
declined by about 10 percent and 7 percent,
respectively.
We also know that not eating enough fruits
and vegetable plays a role in cancer, heart
disease, high blood pressure, stroke and
diabetes.
H