Although we typically think of fruit as sweet and tart, refreshing and summery, according to its botanical definition a fruit is part of a flowery plant; the ovary that encloses the seed or seeds. This can cause some identity crises for foods such as tomatoes and cucumbers. Start re-thinking your food pyramid--here's five surprising fruits that are often mistaken (and commonly classified) as vegetables.
Tomatoes These juicy red summer staples are technically classified as a fruit. From heirloom to grape, roma and beefsteak, when ripe, these hearty fruits are delicious to eat on their own with a little salt and pepper or as part of a simple veggie sandwich. Tomatoes are also full of lycopene -- which not only gives them their color, but has antioxidant properties and can help increase bone health. According to the Mayo clinic, multiple studies "correlate high intake of lycopene-containing foods with reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration."
Peppers Spicy or sweet, chili or bell, peppers are scientifically classified as fruits. Bell peppers all begin green and as they mature they change colors, often into bright reds or oranges. Like a fruit, they are great to eat raw and sliced, or to dip in a salsa as a replacement for chips. All bell varieties contain Vitamin C and fiber, and red bell peppers have especially high levels of beta carotene which can help promote eye health.
Eggplant While eggplant is also technically a fruit, it is not very tasty to eat raw like peppers or tomatoes. But eggplant has fairly porous skin and meat, and usually absorbs whatever type of sauce it's cooked in making it perfect for stir fries. This oval-shaped fruit is also packed with vitamins and minerals, including potassium, fiber, niacin and magnesium.
Cucumber These long, green fruits can be used for slicing and eating, or for pickling. They typically grow to be at least 9 inches but some varieties can reach up to 20 inches. Cucumbers are high in water content consisting of almost 95 percent water, and if they're consumed with the skin on they contain a minor amount of Vitamin C. Classic beauty tips say cucumber juice can help combat acne and reduce eye puffiness.
Pumpkin Pumpkins with their enclosed seeds are technically fruits -- even more specifically, they're classified as berries. They're in the same family as cucumbers and squash, and in addition to carving at Halloween and putting in a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, pumpkins can be baked, boiled or steamed to make any number of recipes. These festive orange fruits are high in fiber and Vitamin A and low in fat and calories.