Are Avocados Fruits or Vegetables?
At first glance, avocados may appear to have more similarities to a vegetable than fruit. You will even find some resources that categorize avocado as a vegetable (possibly due to its high nutrition content). So what is it really? This “superfood” is a nutrient-dense fruit, not a vegetable. Surprised? The avocado is the fruit of the avocado tree – Persena americana and is sometimes called the “alligator pear.”
Vegetable vs. Fruit – Definition
According to botanists, the definition of a vegetable is based mainly on the plant parts, such as roots, stems, and leaves.
Although avocados aren’t nearly as sweet or aesthetically pleasing as other fruit, it still falls under the broad definition of fruit which is defined online as “the fleshy and sweet product of a tree or other plant that contains a seed or seeds and can be eaten as food.”
A fruit by definition is the part of the plant that develops from the flower or the section of the plant that contains the seed or seeds. A fruit is the mature ovary of a flower and consists of a tough outer layer, a middle layer (often referred to as the flesh) and a casing around the seed or seeds which are evident in the avocado.
There are two types of fleshy fruits known as berries and drupes. Drupes have tough pits or stones like those found in a peach. Avocados actually fall into the berries category. Berries are known for their fleshy endocarp, mesocarp, and exocarp layers, such as you see in the avocado.
Vegetables typically contain more vitamins and minerals than fruit and less sugar and avocados definitely fall into this category. Avocados offer close to 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving and contain only 0.7 grams of sugar. The most abundant vitamins and minerals are:
- Potassium: An essential mineral needed for blood pressure control and heart health. (more than a banana)
- Vitamin B6: A group of vitamins that help convert food into energy
- Vitamin K1: Vitamin K1 is important for blood clotting and bone health
- Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant and great for your skin
- Vitamin C: An antioxidant that is important for the immune system and healthy skin
- Folate (B9): Important for normal cell function and tissue growth and is particularly important for women who are pregnant
- Small amounts of Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Vitamin A, B1, B2 and B3
Avocados contain 160 calories per serving, with 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat. Throw in the fact that they don’t contain any sodium or cholesterol and are low in saturated fats, and it is easy to see why it is considered a “superfood.”
How to Incorporate Avocados Into Your Meals
Avocados are incredibly versatile and as such, can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
To make a healthier dessert, utilize ripe avocados instead of heavy cream when making chocolate mousse. Just substitute the ingredients and voila, you have a healthier, more nutrient-dense chocolate dessert. For savory dishes, avocados can be cubed and tossed in your favorite salads. It also goes well with white fish and other types of seafood.
The best part about avocados is they have a very mild flavor, so feel free to experiment with different cuisines until you satisfy your palate.
There You Have It!
Even though the avocado looks like a vegetable and does not taste anything like a sweet and juicy piece of fruit, it does fall under the botanical definition of a fruit.