Is avocado a fruit or vegetable? When you ask someone whether an avocado is a fruit or a vegetable, their intuitive answer would probably be a vegetable. This answer could be because avocados are often associated with savory foods and other vegetables, like a salad. However, the anatomy of an avocado holds the clue as to whether it is a fruit or a vegetable.
The avocado is officially categorized as a fruit. This is due to its classification as a large berry that contains a single seed surrounded by outer layers similar to fruit. However, avocados are not as sweet as other berries, and many other fruits are also mistakenly assumed to be vegetables.
Due to avocados mostly being consumed with other vegetables, it seems surprising that they are fruit. Having the privilege of a huge avocado tree in my backyard, I felt particularly invested in discovering why this popular fruit is classified as such. My research yielded some interesting results.
Why Do People Assume Avocados Are Vegetables?
Having given this some thought, I decided to ask some family members why they would initially categorize avocados as vegetables. The general response is that avocados usually go with saltier or savory foods, whereas fruit is traditionally paired with sweeter food types.
Also, it is second nature to sprinkle some salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon on your mashed avocado, and this could be in a salad or on some toast. There is an essential distinction between fruit and vegetables from a culinary perspective and a botanical perspective.
From a botanical standpoint, you can note where the plant comes from. Fruits grow from the flower of a plant and often contain seeds, hence why avocado is a fruit. Fruits are different from vegetables which originate from the stalk, root, or leaves of a plant.
Regarding the culinary standpoint, avocados can be assumed as a vegetable, and perhaps this is why people often think so. Some other fruits are sometimes mistakenly identified as vegetables.
Why Are Avocados Classified As Fruit?
These green fruits are originally from Mexico and are grown on trees in warmer weather conditions. When ripe, the inside is light green and soft, while the outside is rough and bumpy, ranging from dark green to black.
There are two types of fruit that have a pulp: drupes and berries. Avocados are specifically part of the berry family, containing one large seed and ample, fleshy pulp surrounding it. The seed is also sometimes called the pit of the avocado, and the outside of the seed refers to the pericarp, which has three layers.
The inner layer is the endocarp which is usually a thin layer around the seed. The two outer layers that both avocados and other berries have in common are the mesocarp and the exocarp. The mesocarp is the pulp which is the part that you can eat. The exocarp is the thicker skin on the outside. The exocarp can either be thick or thin, depending on the type of avocado.
The main reason why avocados are berries, not drupes, is that berries also have a sizeable fleshy mesocarp layer and an endocarp layer, and this is the same in avocados.
What Are Other Fruits Commonly Mistaken As Vegetables?
Some other fruits are assumed to be vegetables, primarily due to their cooking applications. Some of these include bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, olives, and pumpkins.
It seems reasonable to think of these fruits as vegetables, as they are only fruits from a purely botanical perspective. However, understanding the difference between fruit and vegetables now makes sense why these fruits would be classified as such. Also, some of these fruits are incorporated into sweeter dishes such as pumpkins.
Do Avocados Ripen Like Other Fruit?
Avocados ripen in response to a plant hormone called ethylene gas which releases into the environment. This process is similar to how other fruits ripen, such as bananas, peaches, tomatoes, apples, and pears. These fruits are also called climacteric fruits and carry on with the ripening process once picked from the tree.
This ripening process is contrary to non-climacteric fruit, which does not continue to ripen after being picked due to producing almost no ethylene gas. Some of these fruits include different types of citrus fruit, grapes, watermelons, and cherries.
When avocados are ripe, the fruit feels slightly soft when applying some pressure to the skin. A ripe avocado on the outside is usually darker green to blackish compared to the bright green it was when picked from the tree. You can also take off the stem at the top, and if it comes off easily, the fruit is usually ready to eat.
How To Use Avocados With Fruit?
These days avocados are also in smoothies with other fruit, such as berries or tropical fruit. The culinary application of avocados has diversified considerably, where you can now even make a chocolate mousse using avocados, which doesn’t taste like avocado at all!
Other dishes that incorporate sweeter ingredients include a fruit salad with grapes, bananas, and oranges. You can also easily make a salad dressing with pureed avocado.
Interestingly, you can disguise avocados in baking, especially with stronger flavors such as chocolate or lemon. Examples include chocolate brownies, lemon cheesecake, and peanut butter cookies. Avocados in these recipes also add a good amount of healthy fat.
What Vegetable Dishes Use Avocados?
As people most often eat avocados with other vegetables, it is not difficult to find meals that pair well with savory foods. For example, a trendy meal is avocado toast with an egg or guacamole with onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.
Avocados can be added toppings or fillings in many meals such as wraps, burgers, toasted sandwiches, and pizzas. You could add some extra savory flavor to these dishes with salt and pepper, and perhaps some other spice such as red chili flakes.
Do Avocados Have Similar Nutritional Content To Fruits?
Although avocados are better seen as vegetables from a culinary perspective, this also holds from a nutritional standpoint. Therefore, the nutritional makeup of avocados is more similar to other vegetables than fruit. When looking at food through the eyes of nutrition, the actual nutrient content and taste are considered.
Avocados are known for their abundant nutritional elements, including large amounts of healthy fats, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. Commonly known as a “superfood” with many health benefits, avocados contain various minerals and vitamins, for example, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B5.
Is Avocado A Fruit Or Vegetable? Conclusion
Although many may assume that avocados form part of the vegetable family, they are classified as a fruit. Their single large seed and fleshy outer parts contribute to the fact that they are botanically associated with berries.
While avocados are technically a fruit, their culinary and nutritional breakdown resembles that of other vegetables, and this makes the application of these versatile fruits quite interesting and very diverse.