Fruits & vegetables

What is the diffenence between fruits and vegetables?

The difference between a fruit and vegetable depends largely on your perspective, From a botanical perspective, a fruit is the mature ovary of a plant, such as an apple, melon, cucumber, or tomato. From the common, every day “grocery store perspective,” we tend to use the word fruit with respect to fruits eaten fresh as desserts —- apples, peaches, cherries, etc. – We normally eat fruits raw and vegetables cooked. In India green papaya, green banana etc. are considered as vegetable, because, they eat them cooked but when they are ripen they call them fruit as then they eat them raw.Now sometimes vegetable when we eat raw we call them SALAD, like cucumber,tomato,onion,radish,cabbage,carrot etc

But whatever way you eat  “EATING FRUIT & VEGETABLES” is always good for health. Eating raw (uncooked) fresh vegetable is better. I have learnt about a family in India who eat only raw but fresh vegetables & fruits in their break fast, lunch and dinner.(never eat anything cooked).They have been doing this practice since last 20 years and they claim that none of their family members visited any doctor during this period for any kind of illness.They became a news flash in TV channel in Calcutta, (a city in India.)

Why do we eat vegetables?

This is a question that would never be asked of fruit. Fruit is sweet. We love sweet things. We love to eat fruit. But vegetables can be bitter, and apart from carrots and sweet potatoes, they are generally not sweet.

How is it, then, that we came to eat vegetables? Partly, it is ‘hardwired’ into us. For good body efficiency reasons.

Basically, we are an evolutionary line from a group of mammals that, from about 65 million years ago until around 50 million years ago were small insectivores, but which evolved to fill tree top vegetable-matter (foliage, fruit, tree seeds, or mixed vegetation based diets) eating niches, while still eating insects whenever we could (chimpanzees , orang-utans, gorillas, gibbons, and the siamang – all apes – eat insects).

Gorillas probably branched out earlier from the ape human ancestral line and so their life way gives us fewer insights into our ancestry (they probably went their separate way around 8 million years ago). Mountain gorillas, in particular, are primarily foliage eaters, consuming large amounts of pithy stems, buds, leaves and shoots. These foods are low in energy density, and gorillas have to eat a lot of plant material to meet their energy needs. They are now fairly specialized vegetation eaters.

Chimps, which have more recently diverged from our ancestral line (generally estimated at around 4.5 million years ago), are more likely to reflect at least some of our ancestral food preferences. Chimps don’t seem to tolerate grossly fibrous food as well as gorillas. They chew leaves into a “wadge’, and press the wadge against their teeth to extract the juicy parts, then spit out the fibrous residue. Chimps prefer insects and meat where it is available in their environment, but in their (primarily) forest environment it is not commonly available. Succulent piths – carefully peeled of the tough exterior – blossoms, fruit, shoots, and leaves are the mainstay (around 95%) of their diet, with insects, eggs, and monkey meat opportunistically thrown in as and when available.

Even limited omnivory is a conservative adaptive trait, and even in the great apes, which have put ‘all their eggs in one evolutionary basket’, so to speak, retain the ability and desire to eat insects (and eggs!).

We eat vegetables because, while we intensively exploit ground based and shoreline animal protein and fats, we share massive amounts of our genetic profile with our related plant food subsisting apes (some scientists assert the genetic similarities are so overwhelmingly great that chimpanzees, the ape genetically ‘closest’ to us, ought to be classified as a species of human), and we are therefore genetically ‘programmed’ to exploit plant food as part of the primate omnivorous capabilities.

Even by the Australopithecine stage in our evolutionary line, we lacked the kind of molar configuration to deal with very pithy vegetation. But we did have the kind of jaw form that could do a lot of chewing on moderately firm and fibrous foods – such as lizards, locusts, baby birds, and plant ‘underground storage organs’ – tubers, roots, corms, bulbs – soft new stems, immature flower buds, fleshy leaf bases, tender new shoots, tree seeds (once opened with rocks), fungi, and acacia gums. The microscopic wear marks on Australopithecus afarensis front teeth are very similar to those on baboon front teeth – suggestive of an intake of similar highly selected, nutrient dense shoots, bulbs, and leaves.

Our gut has become overall shorter, but with an increase in the proportion devoted to the small intestine (where high nutrient foods such as meat are dealt to and absorbed) in order to be able to handle the higher nutrient density foods of seashore and hunt. The price of a shorter gut is less efficient digestion of plant materials, as there is not enough room for the necessary micro flora to help break it down (the female of our species is said to have a longer gut than men. It is an interesting speculation whether this is an evolutionary adaptation to eating more vegetable foods than men, and whether this explains the difference in ‘intestinal gas production’ between men and women -women have more vegetable efficient guts).

Because we have taken omnivory far further than any other related animal, and can live quite well on an almost exclusive meat and fat diet if we had to, does not mean that we can forever abandon eating plants. Plants are ‘powerhouses’ of many and complex ‘life enhancing compounds’, and we almost instinctively ‘know’ that we need them. If our sense of taste hasn’t been completely dulled and distorted by the cultural forces of our urban ‘fad’ diet, we sometimes feel a craving for ‘bitter herbs’, and seek them out. There may be the distant echo of instinctive ‘self medication’, or perhaps, ‘self biochemical regulation’ in this feeling.

Vegetables are an important – perhaps key – part of our ‘generalist’ evolutionary niche, in that the reliable carbohydrate source of bulbs and roots (and certain seeds) acted as insurance against failure in the high value but much more uncertain hunt. On top of this, humans need far more energy to fuel our brains than any other primate – around 300 kcal when at rest, and it has to be in the form of glucose, because that is the fuel the brain runs on. This energy requirement can be met relatively easily with some roots and tubers, depending on the carbohydrate content of the particular species. In some respects, we should perhaps consider roots and tubers as a major food item, in a separate class to leafy greens, shoots, buds, and flowers

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