The tomato is an enigma, is it a fruit or a vegetable?

Since ancient times and up to the present day it often happens that we wonder about the tomato, is it a fruit, a vegetable or a vegetable? According to the book that contains information about all organic beings on Earth, the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), the tomato is a fruit. But it is not always considered as such.


The tomato is a fruit, but in gastronomy it is used as a vegetable.

It is born from a seed, from the ovary of a plant and is consumed once ripe, it has seeds inside. However, in the culinary field, it is considered a vegetable, because its sugar levels are much lower than those of fruits. Moreover, no dessert is prepared with tomato, and yes, these culinary preparations may include one or more of the other fruits.

The truth is that some vegetables, botanically, are categorized as fruits, although they are consumed as if they were vegetables. Tomato is one such example, but there are more, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, pumpkins, and avocados add to the list. Each of them is a fruit, although we consume them in salads and other culinary preparations as if they were vegetables.

Peculiarities of the tomato

The raw tomato, according to the Encyclopedia of Life, contains 95% water, less than 1% fat, 4% carbohydrates and protein. It is a powerful antioxidant and provides 18 kilocalories raw. It also provides 17% of the vitamin C we should consume daily. It is indisputable that nur body benefits from its consumption. These are some of the benefits it offers us:

  • It contains vitamin A that protects the eyesight.
  • Prevents constipation.
  • Improves the skin
  • Promotes blood circulation.
  • Helps to control weight

It is native to South America. It is estimated that the first plantations originated in the regions of Peru and Ecuador. From there, it spread throughout South America and reached Mexico, where Hernán Cortés took it to Europe. The first European record of this fruit dates back to 1544 and belongs to a herbalist named Matthioli.

A curious fact took place in the United States at the end of the 19th century. There is a court case in which the tomato is the protagonist. It was 1893 and a lawsuit called Nix v. Hedden was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

the tomato is a fruit

The fact is that at that time, the marketing of vegetables was taxed, which was not the case with the fruit trade. This is why the merchants of the Port of New York included tomatoes in the category of “Fruits, green, ripe or dried, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act”, as established in an ordinance of 1883. However, according to the Supreme Court ruling, the tomato had to pay the 10% tax, because for them, it was a vegetable, since it was not used to prepare desserts.

Its tastiness is indispensable in gastronomy.

Indeed, it is a fruit that plays a fundamental role in numerous gastronomic creations. From pizzas to sauces that enhance lasagna and various types of pasta, to juices, soups, a wide range of salads and many other culinary delights. Its absence would undoubtedly leave a void in these preparations.

Pizza with tomato sauce

The term “tomato” comes from the Aztec language and translates as “fat water”. After its arrival in Europe, several nations chose to rename it. In Italy, it adopted the name “pomodoro”, derived from “pomo d’oro”, meaning “golden apple”. This explains why, when the tomato seeds arrived in Russia, they were called “pomidor”.

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