One of the great mysteries that elude us when you get to know it the first time, is how can a tomato be a fruit? Fruits are supposed to be sweet, taste good, and they aren’t made into a puree and spread on a pizza, and neither do you make ketchup out of them and slather it on French fries. But unfortunately, this is a fact: tomatoes are fruits, and more specifically, they are botanically classified as berries (which could further be a cause for one not going for botany).
Which brings us to the next question in the logical train of thought: is an onion a vegetable? After all, since we can’t trust the veggies we eat to be veggies, are fruits even fruits? Or the next line is going to ask ‘are onions fruit’ and the answer seems somewhere along the lines of a big yes. Let’s address these questions because this is apparently a thing and we can’t eat without having the satisfaction of knowing whether it was a fruit or veggie that you just downed.
So here’s the deal: onions are definitely vegetables. Because nobody likes to beat about the bush, we thought we’d come right out and say it. Onions are vegetables, and more specifically, the type of plant whose roots are edible (considering that onions grow underground, and the nutrients are stored in this bulb of the plant). So why are we questioning the legitimacy of onion as a vegetable and why are questions like what is an onion and are onions fruits or vegetables. Lets have a look at all this and try and answer some of the questions we encounter.
A Brief History of Onions and Is An Onion a Vegetable
Cultivated around 5000 BC, onions have been depicted in the works of literature and art in the South Asian region from as far back as 3500 BC, and were transported back to the European states, from where they spread around the world. The modern onion is still a far cry from what the Indians and Chinese were enjoying all that time back, and yet, the Chinese onion is still around, which is only a slight variation of what the first onion looked like.
However, in this case, you have to bear in mind, that through a process called selective breeding, farmers, agriculturists and horticulturists have aimed towards increasing the yield of a certain vegetable from its plant, which explains the existence of the enlarged bulbs we see onions in the form of today.
The Different Types of Onions Out There
Selective breeding and differences in climates and even palettes across the whole world have resulted in different types of onions, like the Spanish or the white onion. Here’s a little detail on these types.
Belonging to the same family as a regular onion, white onions are characterized by their papery-white skin, more water content and subsequently a crunchier texture. White onions are primarily used for sandwiches and salads, as their high-water content and less tangy and sharp flavor makes them ideal for such uses.
What could be called the bigger iteration of a white onion, Spanish onions are mostly consumed for their mild and borderline sweet flavor, which could help explain why many people bite into it like an apple. With a white or slightly yellow-ish skin, it is used in pickles and culinary applications where a mild flavor is preferred.
The classic onions, which are pink when you cut them into halves. The characteristic taste, tanginess and the sharp flavor associated with onions in general is because of this type of onion. Consumed all across the world, red onions are generally used in salads.
Is an Onion a Vegetable or a Fruit?
As stated beforehand, onions are vegetables, as a necessary trait of fruits is that they must contain seeds, and be formed from the flower of a plant. And since onion seeds aren’t something that we find when we chop them up, and onion flowers aren’t a thing, onions are classified as vegetables. Furthermore, since they grow underground, they are classified as the vegetables which are also the roots of said plant: as evidenced by the facts that they grow underground and have most of the nutritional content stored in their bulbs.
Which brings us to the point of contention, and more importantly, why questions like ‘is an onion a vegetable’ are all around us. And that is because, in botany, bulbs are considered different from roots of a plant; for instance, carrots are also roots, as are radishes and leeks. Decidedly much different than onions, the latter is therefore classified as roots but with the addition of ‘bulbs’ with it, owing to the fact that it is actually shaped like a bulb. And this is really the issue: are onions the roots that are considered edible or the bulbs that can be eaten.
For simplification of this entire matter, onions are considered bulbs of the plant that are edible owing to its physical shape.
Which other Fruits, Veggies Get the Same Treatment?
Here are some other fruits/ vegetables plagued by this identity crisis thanks to botanists across the world.
- Rhubarb: considered a fruit, botanically a vegetable.
- Grape leaves/ vines: Part of a fruit, consumed as vegetables in some cuisines.
- Avocado: considered a vegetable, botanically a fruit.
- Tomatoes: considered a vegetable, botanically a fruit (berry).
- Green beans: considered a vegetable, botanically a fruit.
- Corn: corn on the cob is a vegetable, individual corn kernels considered fruits.
- Watermelon: considered a fruit, botanically a vegetable.
- Eggplant: considered a vegetable, botanically a fruit (berry).
- Okra: considered a vegetable, botanically a fruit.
- Olives: considered a vegetable, botanically a fruit.
These are some of the more popular examples of fruits and vegetables having their identity in doubts.
What Constitutes a Fruit?
A fruit, as explained beforehand, is any product of the plant, that satisfies two conditions,
- Contains seeds within itself (pulp, flesh)
- Is formed from the flower of the plant.
Any plant product that follows these two requisites are considered, botanically, a fruit. Which puts into question the status of fruits/ vegetables like cucumbers, watermelons and tomatoes, which are traditionally classified as the exact opposite of what they are botanically classified as.
What Makes a Vegetable a Vegetable?
In context with the aforementioned definition of a fruit, wherein a seed-bearing product of a flower is considered a fruit, the exact opposite is considered a vegetable. Basically any part of a plant that is edible other than a flower is a vegetable, which includes roots, tubulars, stalks, leaves, and engorged flowers and other products like peas (which are technically seeds).
With this simple and generalised classification at hand, it gets much more easy to know, scientifically, which is which, and does away with the confusion of mistaking vegetables for fruits and vice-versa.
Some Health Benefits of Onions
Onions, being a product rich in anti-carcinogens and many nutrients, are very beneficial for the health and should be integrated into the daily diet as the benefits it poses to the human health are plentiful. Here are some of the more famous health benefits of onions that you too can reap if you integrate onions in your diet in a good quantity.
The first and foremost among the health benefits of onions is cancer prevention, and it is a big one, as many oncologists will tell you this that prevention is much better than treatment, and at the forefront of dietary supplements that you can use if you have a family history of cancer or are very at-risk to cancer. With its supply of anti-carcinogens and anti-oxidating elements, cancer prevention is the one thing that onions are really good for, and if you have a fleeting worry about such, onions should be number one on your priority list.
For the Skin And Hair
With its anti-oxidant content, onions have been widely in use for hair remedies and growth oils, and for the de-aging of the skin, and the opening of skin follicles. All these amount to a very good use for onion: hair and skin. And if you have any condition that is affecting your hair or skin, onions are the way to start and will give you very good results. Oils that contain onion and its derivatives have even been rumored to stop hair fall or slow the aging process, smoothing out wrinkles and any fine lines you might have on the face or elsewhere.
Blood Pressure Moderation
Onions have a high ratio of quercetin, which is useful for maintaining a high level of HDL, also known as the good or healthy cholesterol, that is required by the body for lubrication and maintenance purposes. What’s more, fiber for a person suffering from high blood pressure is very good, and onions are also very fiber-heavy, which could help explain why people with such ailments are prescribed diets which make use of onions.
List of Commonly Asked Questions and Answers on a Website About Topics “Is An Onion a Vegetable”
Q1. What Makes an Onion a Vegetable?
onions are vegetables, although the part that is still up for debate is whether they are roots or bulbs, with a good majority of the botanical community standing with the latter classification. Now what makes an onion a vegetable is the fact that for something to be a vegetable, it must be a part of a plant other than a normal flower that should be edible. Onions are both the root and the bulb of the onion plant, which is what is the primary and main reason for them to be classified as vegetables.
Q2. What Vegetable Category is Onion?
the category that they fall in relate to the bulbs or roots category. As we all know, even those with the most rudimentary knowledge of botany will know, roots are underground, and onions grow underground. Plus, roots are from where the plant derives most of its nutrition; water, nutrients from the soil etc.
Onions are roots in the sense that they are underground and most of the nutrient and water content is stored in it, which is also very characteristic of roots. Lastly, these are also considered bulbs because roots, in their general categorization, are not always engorged and round and bulbous, which contributes to their classification as bulbs as well.
Q3. Is onion a legume?
Legume, in the English language, is another name for pulses, and pulses are considered seeds of the plants, not the roots or the bulbs. Onions cannot be considered legumes using this analogy, and so, onions are not considered legumes.
However, in the French language, onions might be considered legumes as legumes in the French language means vegetable, and onions are vegetables. That’s what we’ve been saying this whole passage, and we’ll conclude with this. For the English-speaking world, onion is not a legume. For the French-speaking part of the world, yes, legume is a vegetable and thus, onion is a legume.