Fruits and Vegetables : Introduction

A fruit is a seed bearing part of plant and is edible when ripen and fleshy. Many vegetables may be considered fruit in the true botanical sense. Botanically, fruits are those portion of plant which house seeds. Therefore, items such as tomatoes, cucumber, peppers etc. would be classified as fruit on this basis. However, important distinction between fruit and vegetable lies on usage basis. Those items that are generally eaten with main course of meal are considered vegetables. Those that are commonly eaten as deserts are considered fruits. Vegetables are derived from different parts of the plants.

Category of vegetable Example
Stem or tubers Sweet potatoes, potatoes
Roots Radish, carrot
Modified bud or bulb Onion, garlic
Leaves Spinach, cabbage, lettuce
Flower Cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes
Sprouts, shoots Asparagus, bamboo shoots
Legumes, cereals Peas, beans, corn lentils
Vine fruits Squash, cucumber
Berry fruits Tomato
Tree fruits Avocado

Fruits as a dessert item is the mature ovaries of the plant with their seeds. The edible portion of most fruits is the fleshy part of the pericarp or vessels surrounding the seeds. They commonly are grouped into several major division depending principally upon botanical structure and chemical composition and climatic requirements.

Berries are fruits which are generally small and quite fragile. Grapes are physically fragile and fruits I cluster. Melons on other hand are large and have tough outer rind. Drupes contains single pit and includes items such as peaches and plums, cherries etc. Pomes contains many pits and are represented by apple, pears etc. citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are high in citric acid. Tropical and subtropical fruits includes bananas, dates, pineapple, mangoes and other which require warm climates.

Most fresh fruits and vegetables are high in water content (>70 %), low in protein (≯3.5%) and low in fats (≯5%). However there are some exceptions. Legumes such as soybean and other beans are high in protein. Few vegetables such as sweet corn are high in fat and avocados are rich source of fat (19 – 22%)

Fruits and vegetables are important source of both digestible and indigestible carbohydrate. Digestible carbohydrate are present largely in form of sugar and starches while indigestible cellulose provide roughage which is important to normal digestion. Fruits and vegetables are important source of vitamins and minerals.