Real Talk: Is A Potato A Fruit Or Vegetable?

Let's play our favorite game — is it a fruit or a vegetable? Tomatoes were the first fruit that gave us trust issues as most of us grew up thinking they were vegetables. After all, you probably wouldn't bite into a tomato like you would an apple. However, they are far from the only ones on the suspect list as okra, eggplants, and cucumbers also got our heads whirling. It turns out all of them are fruit. So you would be forgiven for questioning the humble potato.

Often, potatoes seemed to be grouped in a class of their own. Since they're a starch and high in carbs, they're sometimes seen as inferior when compared to leafy greens like broccoli or spinach. However, let us set the record straight so there's no doubt for our readers; potatoes were and have always been vegetables. No, that doesn't mean potato chips suddenly count as eating your veggies, but potatoes can be classified as vegetables. "Thinking about what a vegetable really is, a potato does fall under that. It's just a starchy one, "Felicia Porrazza, a registered dietitian nutritionist, told CNBC.

Under the United States Department of Agriculture, vegetables are broken into five different categories — leafy greens, starches, beans/legumes, red and orange veggies, and other vegetables. Based upon this classification, potatoes would as mentioned above fall under starches. However, let's take a look at why potatoes aren't classified as fruit instead.

Settling the debate once and for all

The reason vegetables are mistaken for fruit and vice versa comes down to a common misconception that all fruits are sweet and refreshing and all vegetables are savory and slightly earthy. As the case of the tomato proves, this isn't always necessarily true. You can have fruits that are savory or tangy, and you can have vegetables that are sweet like sweet potatoes. So what classifies a fruit and vegetable?

According to Healthline, vegetables and fruits are classified for the part of the plant in which they grow and are harvested. Fruit develops from the flowering part of a plant and generally contains seeds for this very reason. Think of fruit as a means to extend a plant's species through germination. Meanwhile, vegetables typically grow along the stems, leaves, and roots of a plant, and they don't typically contain seeds as a result.

For this reason, a potato is without a doubt a vegetable. Potatoes grow underground, which often gives the misconception that they come from a plant's roots, but in actuality, potatoes grow on a stem called a stolen. They are offshoots of this stem called tubers, and potatoes don't contain seeds. So now that we've settled the debate, here's the best way to make mashed potatoes.