Is a Pumpkin a Fruit? The Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." This quote by Brian O'Driscoll always comes to mind whenever I hear people arguing whether their favorite "vegetable" is a fruit. We've been conditioned to consider fruits sweet and vegetables not. You serve vegetables as a side with savory dishes when fruit gets all the fame as dessert. But what if our thinking is all wrong? Is a pumpkin a fruit? What about a cucumber? And does it really matter?

What are the differences between a fruit and a vegetable?

According to FruitsandVeggies.org, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to achieve increased daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, says botanists classify fruits according to the edible portion of the plant that develops from a flower and contains seeds. This means cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash like zucchini, avocados, watermelons, apples, and pumpkins are fruits. On the other hand, a vegetable is the edible part of the plant such as a tuber, leaf, flower, or bulb. So lettuce, carrots, kohlrabi, and potatoes are all veggies.

Is a pumpkin a fruit?

All those gourds and varieties of pumpkins in the pumpkin patch? All fruit! Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes about 975 different species of fleshy fruit, known as a pepo, according to Britannica. The flowering plant grows using vines, with most varieties being low in nutrients except for winter squash.

Pumpkin Nutrition

Winter squash such as pumpkins and butternut squash are more nutrient-dense than their family members, so this Halloween, buy a pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern and another for all your favorite pumpkin recipes. Some health benefits you can get from pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, and even your pumpkin spice latte (if it contains pumpkin puree) are vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with fiber and magnesium.

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