By Melanie Fincher

Let's settle this debate.

We've all heard it said that tomatoes are actually fruits. Ever wonder how it's decided what foods are fruits and what foods are vegetables? This debate was so intense back in 1893, the Supreme Court ruled in Nix v. Hedden that even though they bear seeds (making them botanically a fruit), tomatoes should be taxed as a vegetable. So it can get confusing, to say the least.

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Related: Eat the Rainbow for a Longer, Healthier Life

Define "Fruit" Please

Botanically speaking, a fruit is the seed-bearing part that develops from the flower of a plant. Easy enough, right? Well the problem is there's more than one way to define fruit. There's also the culinary definition of a fruit. In the culinary world, fruits and vegetables are divided based on taste. Fruits are generally tart or sweet in flavor, and tend to be used for desserts or juices.

But sticking to the strictly botanical definition of fruit, there are a lot of fruits out there that you're probably calling vegetables. Just to name a few:

Everything You Need to Know About Tomatoes

All your burning tomato questions answered:

So What's a Vegetable?

So if fruit is the seed-bearing part of the plant, a vegetable is any other part of the plant. Vegetables can be the roots of a plant, such as beets, potatoes, or turnips. They can also be the leaves like lettuce and spinach, or the buds like cauliflower or broccoli. Vegetables can even be the stem of a plant, like celery. But like we've established, it's not that simple. That's the botanical definition of a vegetable. In the culinary world, vegetables tend to be used for more savory foods. There are some vegetables (in the botanical sense) that are sweet in flavor and used as fruits in cooking:

The Debate Lives On

Although it's handy to know the botanical definitions of fruits and vegetables, it doesn't really make a difference when it comes to cooking. Even the U.S. government sides with the culinary definition of a tomato. But when it comes to nutrition, fruits and vegetables have very little differences. They're both high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So why don't we stop focusing on our differences, and all look at how we're similar, right? All that is to say, a tomato can be a fruit or a vegetable, it's really up to you.

Related: How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables to Preserve Freshness

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