Is Pumpkin a Fruit or Vegetable?
'Tis the season to show off your pumpkin-carving skills and indulge in pumpkin spice...well, everything. From lattes and desserts to savory pumpkin dishes, this popular fall food is as tasty as it is versatile. But we've always wondered, is pumpkin a fruit, or is pumpkin a vegetable?
You're probably thinking that the orange-yellow squash easily falls into the vegetable category—which would make total sense. They have that earthy, slightly sweet flavor that makes them perfect for hearty soups, casseroles, pastas and everything in between. And besides, it's not like we can easily toss raw pumpkins into our morning fruit salad. Surely, this must mean that the festive treat is a vegetable, right?
Well, not so fast—it turns out that pumpkin is actually a fruit and not a vegetable. Read on for more details on why it's considered a fruit.
1. What is a fruit?
According to botanists, fruits are developed in the ovary of a flowering plant and they contain seeds. But if you were to ask a culinary expert to tell you what fruits are, their definition might be a little different.
Since most cooks tend to classify foods by their taste, fruits are generally described as sweet and tart, which makes them perfect for popular desserts like pies and cakes. But scientifically speaking, not all fruits are dessert-worthy.
2. What is a vegetable?
Vegetables, which tend to have a more savory taste, are defined as the edible parts of plants that don't contain seeds. They typically contain stems, roots, flowers, bulbs or leaves, which means that produce like leafy greens, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, yams and asparagus are all considered vegetables.
3. Is pumpkin a fruit and why?
Since fruits are seed-bearing structures and pumpkins contain a gooey pulp with a wealth of seeds (known as pepitas), they are definitely fruits. And if you think that that's wild, get this: Pumpkins are also considered giant berries, since a berry is defined as a fleshy, pulpy and edible fruit that may contain seeds. Pretty nuts, isn't it?
A pumpkin isn't the only savory food that's considered a fruit. It's also worth noting that avocados, eggplants, olives, peppers and tomatoes are also fruits—although they're usually referred to as vegetables in the culinary world.
4. Does this mean that all squashes are fruits?
Pumpkin, which is a type of squash, isn't the only plant in the family that comes with many seeds. Though they all vary in taste and texture, it turns out that all squash, from butternut and acorn to crookneck and zucchini, have seeds in them. And so this makes them—you guessed it—fruits.
5. What are the benefits of pumpkin?
Though the festive gourd is considered a fruit, it doesn’t change the fact that it includes some impressive health benefits. In fact, pumpkins are loaded with so many vitamins and nutrients that they're considered a superfood.
The tasty gourds are loaded with vitamin A (one cup provides more than 200 percent of the recommended daily amount), which makes them great for promoting eye health and supporting a healthy immune system. They're also very low in calories and considered to be a good source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber and antioxidants.
As for the seeds, they're filled with antioxidants and valuable nutrients, such as magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin B2 and vitamin K. They're also very high in fiber, which can promote good digestive health.
According to a 2019 study, pumpkin seeds are not only nutritious, but they also have therapeutic properties, proving to be useful in the "treatment and management of diabetes, inflammation, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, cancer management," and more.
Sounds like we'll be adding a lot more pumpkin (and pumpkin seeds) to our diet going forward!