Is a potato a fruit? People are often confused about potatoes (including waxy potatoes) and how they came to be classified as vegetables. Potatoes are root vegetables, and yes, they have always been classified taxonomically as vegetables.
The confusion comes from the fact that dietitians and nutritionists often say that people can’t classify potatoes as vegetables when designing their meals. This would mean that people can eat a large number of starchy potatoes and get good results.
This isn’t the case for potatoes because they have a slightly different composition than other vegetables like lettuce or legumes. Today, we take a closer look at potatoes and how they fall into the world of vegetables. Is potato fruit or vegetable?
How Are Potatoes Different from Other Vegetables? Is a potato a fruit or vegetable?
Potatoes are vegetables as they belong to the nightshade family. The Solanaceae family is characterized by vines, herbs, trees, epiphytes, and more. Some members of the Solanaceae are essential to human agriculture, like tomatoes and potatoes. Despite having leaves that are often poisonous to mammals, members of the Solanaceae family can be quite useful. They include bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and of course, tomatoes. There are about 2,7000 Solanaceae plants in the world. They are typically called the “nightshade plants.”
Why Is a Potato Not a Fruit? Is a potato a fruit?
Potatoes are not fruits because they belong to a family that consists primarily of vegetables. Potatoes are an example of root crops or root vegetables with highly starchy tubers. Potatoes have become widespread because they are an easy source of carbohydrates, and they can serve as a staple food in almost any country where they grow. Potatoes are the most convenient type of vegetable, especially for the fast-food industry, and many beloved home recipes also call for this classic vegetable. And so while it may look like a fruit from a certain angle, potatoes are vegetables.
What Is Considered a Fruit or Vegetable?
Like the question is a potato a fruit or vegetable, people can get confused about what is classified in the first place.
Botanically speaking, we can classify if a crop is either a vegetable or a fruit depending on how they grow and which part of a plant they originate. Fruits typically form from the flowers of the plant. The flowers eventually form into fruits. A fruit-bearing plant can have edible portions that can be harvested and be called vegetables. There are two contending perspectives at work here that muddle the conversation just a little bit.
The formal, scientific classifications don’t always work in the kitchen. For example, a tomato is technically a fruit, but it is not usually consumed. You don’t see people taking large tomatoes and eating them as they would with oranges. However, taxonomically, tomatoes are fruits and not vegetables. From the culinary point of view, tomatoes are the perfect vegetables.
They are rich, flavorful, and can be processed in many ways. Interestingly enough, even the US Supreme Court has ruled that tomatoes in trade should be classified as vegetables and not fruits. This decision was handed down in 1893.
However, botanically speaking, we have to acknowledge that tomatoes are fruits based on how they grow. The same goes for potatoes – they are considered vegetables in trade and botanically. However, potatoes encounter issues when they are being classified for a healthy diet.
If nutritionists agree that potatoes are part of the healthy vegetable family, then it’s possible that people would get the wrong impression and consume far more of it than they should. This is why potatoes are always grouped with grains and other starchy foods because of the primary nutrient they contribute to the meal – carbohydrates.
What are the fundamental differences between fruits and vegetables?
If we look at the anatomy of fruits and vegetables, it will become apparent that fruit has to have at least some of the essential characteristics of fruit, such as seeds. On the other hand, vegetables refer to plant areas like the leaves, stems, and roots. Focus on the part of the plant that you are observing, and it would be easy to determine which is which.
There is so much cultural confusion between culinary classifications and botanical classifications that there are other “casualties,” not just the tomato or potato.
The following are crops that are considered vegetables. Still, they are botanically fruits because they fulfill the essential requirement of having grown from flowers and bearing seeds: zucchini, winter squash, pea pods, avocados, pumpkins, cucumbers, olives, peppers, olives, and eggplants. It might be hard to compare these fruits from citrus fruits and other sweet and tart fruits that are commercially traded as fruits. But in the eyes of scientists and mother nature, a pea pod is as much fruit like an apple or an orange. Indeed, nature can be strange sometimes.
Nature is full of paradoxes, and one such paradox is that there are vegetables that are naturally sweet – like sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are technically vegetables because they are part of the root system of the plant. And they are not alone – turnips, beets, rutabagas, and carrots are all sweet and starchy, and yet, they are vegetables. They are also cooked and prepared as vegetables, but they are similar to fruits.
Do fruits and vegetables offer the same types of nutrients?
Because both types of products come from plants, they do have nutritionally similar benefits. For one, you can get lots of dietary fiber from both vegetables and fruits. Essential nutrients and beneficial compounds are also part of the benefits. If you want to reverse aging and control your weight, you have to eat more fruits and vegetables. The essential difference, however, is the amount of sugar that fruits contain. Vegetables don’t usually contain a lot of natural sugars.