Do you have difficulty deciding whether potatoes are a vegetable or fruit? Discover the answer in this article to the question- are potatoes a vegetable? Find out exactly what food group a potato belongs to, whether they’re one of our 5 a day and if the starch within them is good for us!
What is the definition of a vegetable?
The difference between fruits and vegetables is as follows. Fruits are the seed-bearing structure that develops from a flowering plant. Vegetables are the other parts of the plant, such as leaves, stems, and roots.
Seedy outgrowths such as tomatoes, apples, and squash, are fruits. Roots such as turnips, beets, and potatoes, leaves such as lettuce, spinach, and kale, and stems such as broccoli and celery, are all classed as vegetables.
Although, the difference between a fruit and a vegetable also alters if you’re a chef or gardener. A chef will see those fruits that are savory rather than sweet, as vegetables. This includes botanical fruits like tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers.
Potatoes are a vegetable native to America and are a starchy tuber of the plant Solanum tuberosum. The plant itself is a perennial in the nightshade family, Solanaceae.
Are potatoes a vegetable?
Yes, potatoes are vegetables, they are grown as a vegetable crop, eaten like other vegetables, taxed as a vegetable crop, and most importantly they don’t have seeds inside their flesh which makes potatoes a vegetable.
Potatoes, by definition, are a vegetable as they come from an annual plant that is grown for its edible root.
Vegetables have five subgroups based on their nutritional content; red and orange vegetables, dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables.
Potatoes are definitely categorized as a vegetable, their plant family is nightshades, which makes them nightshade vegetables along with peppers and tomatoes.
Fruits are a particular part of some plants, and not all plants bear fruit. When they do, the fruit is only a small part of it, and it is distinguished because when it is mature, it has seeds.
If a fruiting body is not mature and has been altered to not have seeds, then it is still identified as a fruit, for example, the seedless watermelon.
Are potatoes a vegetable -why the confusion?
There has been confusion because we think of fruits as sweet or sour and can be eaten raw, like lemons or apples. Many things that we consider vegetables are the fruiting bodies of plants, such as peppers, bean pods, tomatoes, and corn kernels.
So technically, baby bell peppers are both a nightshade vegetable and a fruit, but as it’s immature, they have no seeds. This is why we’re all confused.
On the other hand, the potato is the root of the potato plant and is not a fruiting body, so in this case, it isn’t a fruit. Potatoes reproduce from their roots, from which eyes can sprout, which is what we see when we leave a potato in a dark corner for too long.
The purpose of the potato is to act as a root and to store starch.
The fact they’re grown for their roots, like other vegetables, is why they’re classed as a vegetable.
If they had seeds inside, then it would more than likely be a case of them classifying as a fruit instead.
Do potatoes count as one of my 5 a day?
No, even though potatoes are 100% natural, cholesterol and fat-free, and packed with minerals and vitamins, they have never been part of your 5 a day.
This has been on the menu to change though, as a medium-sized potato of any variety, with the skin on, provides us with 27mg of Vitamin C, which is 45% of our recommended daily amount. A medium potato also contains 0.2mg of vitamin B which is vital for our nervous system.
The problem with adding it to the 5-a-day mix is that we will then begin to question whether we should allow crisps and other savory snacks into the scheme also. Obviously, crisps aren’t as healthy as potatoes alone due to the fact they’re cooked in oil, but the question will still be raised.
So at the moment, potatoes are not classed as one of our 5 a day.
Are potatoes a starchy vegetable?
Starch is a form of carbohydrate and it’s the main type of carbohydrate in your diet. Carbohydrates often get bad press, which is unfortunate because they give your body the energy it needs.
Carbohydrates are usually classed as either simple carbohydrates or complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are those which are easily digested -found in sugars, white bread, etc.
Potatoes are mainly starch which makes them quite high in carbohydrates. Starch is considered a complex carbohydrate.
Your diet should consist of starchy (potatoes, green peas, and corn) and non-starchy vegetables (asparagus, leafy greens, cauliflower, etc). As starchy vegetables contain more carbohydrates and therefore energy, less should be eaten than non starchy vegetables.
What way do you eat potatoes?
Potatoes are good for you, but the way they are cooked determines how healthy they are. Buttery mashed potatoes and greasy french fries are not healthy due to the high amount of fats, these should be eaten in moderation.
Starchy foods should make up at least one-third of the food you eat on a daily basis, and where you can, choose whole grain varieties and eat your potatoes with the skin on for more fiber.
To sum up, even though there is a lot of confusion as to whether potatoes are a fruit or a vegetable, they’re actually categorized as a vegetable. Not just any vegetable, but a root vegetable.
Even though potatoes are healthy and are vegetables, they don’t count as one of your 5 a day. This has been discussed further, but no agreement was ever decided. Potatoes are a starchy food and are good for a healthy balanced diet on a daily basis. Beware how they are cooked though, crisps and french fries are not healthy and should be eaten in moderation.