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Did you know that avocado is a fruit (a berry, to be specific)? It’s true! Don’t believe it? Keep reading to learn more about why the healthy and delicious avocado is considered a fruit instead of a vegetable.

Is avocado a fruit
or vegetable?

The humble avocado gets a lot of love. Not only is it delicious, but its mild taste makes it a versatile ingredient that's nutrient-dense, too! One 50 g serving, one-third of a medium avocado, provides nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, including the Daily Value (DV) for Vitamin E, Vitamin K, fiber, folate, niacin, and potassium. Plus, it’s a fresh food source easily found in cafes, kitchens, and restaurants worldwide. Despite all the attention given to its health benefits and the rise in popularity of avocado toast and avocado smoothies, confusion remains. Here, we answer: Are avocados fruit or vegetable?

What is a fruit?

Before we get to the juicy answer, we need to get the basics down. While it might seem simple enough to distinguish between a fruit and a vegetable, like many things in life, the definition depends on the context. Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing product that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. Generally sweet and fleshy in nature, fruits are classified as either drupes or berries. However, it's important to note that the boundary between a drupe and a berry is not always clear.

The delicious peach is the perfect example of a drupe. Drupes have a tough endocarp, or inner layer surrounding the seed, and contain only one stone or pit rather than multiple seeds. On the other hand, berries usually have a fleshy endocarp and more than one seed.

As always, there are a few curveballs: From a culinary perspective, produce that meets the biological definition of a fruit is sometimes considered a vegetable. For example, chefs often refer to fruits such as tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers as vegetables due to their savory taste, even though a botanist would surely disagree.

What is a vegetable?

Different from fruit, the definition of what constitutes a vegetable is less specific, which is one of the reasons why confusion exists in the first place. Simply put, a vegetable is an edible plant or part of a plant consumed by people. Edible plant parts such as flowers, stems, leaves, and roots are all considered vegetables. However, veggies have also long been defined by culinary tradition rather than biology. Due to this fact, there is a clear overlap between culinary vegetables and botanical fruits, which is the often-confusing part of the Venn diagram where tomatoes and avocados are often put.

Avocado is a fruit!

While avocados are often prepared with salt and spice and consumed like, and alongside, vegetables, avocados are biologically fruits since they contain seeds and develop from the ovary of a flowering plant. The avocado fruit grows on trees, as a matter of fact! What might be even more surprising is that avocados are actually considered single-seeded berries in the same family as sassafras, the bay laurel, and various species of cinnamon tree.

Confusion persists because of their savory taste, culinary applications, and the fact that they don't fall neatly into either fruit category. For example, while avocados are generally classified as berries, they have a single seed, so some sources classify avocados as drupes. The existence of a fleshy endocarp, while tiny and bearing little resemblance to other berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries, is the final deciding factor that classifies them as a berry.

Nutritional value of avocados

Many people enjoy avocados for their delectable and adaptable taste. Because they are not the typical sweet fruit, avocado is a fruit versatile enough to be used in various recipes. However, the nutritional value of avocados is what makes this fruit so popular.

Did You Know?

Avocados are virtually the only fruit with “good” monosaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Plus, avocados are naturally sugar-, sodium-, and cholesterol-free.

Healthy avocados contribute 5 g of monounsaturated fat and 1 g of polyunsaturated fat per 50 g serving (one-third of a medium avocado). Over 75% of the fat in an avocado is unsaturated, making it an excellent substitute for foods high in saturated fats, such as butter and mayonnaise. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, replacing saturated fats or trans fats with unsaturated fats can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.

Avocados are a great cholesterol- and sodium-free alternative to processed foods. Healthy avocados are a good source of essential nutrients, such as fiber, folate, Vitamin K, pantothenic acid, and copper. Because they contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients while also serving as a source of good fats (6 g per 50 g serving), the avocado fruit is a satisfying and healthful addition to a balanced diet. © 2024 All rights reserved.

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