Are cucumbers a fruit or vegetable? I believe many people have come across the proverb “as cool as a cucumber” in their lives, which means “one can remain calm under pressure”.
Interestingly, the expression describing a person as cool as a cucumber first came from a new poem written by John Gay, an English writer in the 18th century.
Nearly two hundred years later, research from the Commonwealth found that even in hot environments, the cucumber could maintain its internal temperature at 50°F below that of the outside world.
Research by the American Chemical Society further showed that consuming cucumbers helps regulate body temperature and prevent dehydration in the body. So it seems that there is a profound truth behind this little proverb.
For any plant, we can first have a clear and visual description of the species in terms of anatomical morphology and then analyze its connections and differences with other species in terms of systematic classification.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is an annual herb in the genus Cucurbitaceae. This means that during the life cycle of a year, cucumbers need to complete the processes of germination, growth, flowering, and fruiting, and finally death.
It is for this reason that during the overwintering period, annuals can only survive this unfavorable period of life by seed.
Like other plants of the Cucurbitaceae family (gourds, watermelons, winter squash, pumpkins, lucerne, melons, etc.), cucumbers have monoecious flowers, with male flowers followed by female flowers during the development process.
The easiest way to distinguish the female flowers from the male flowers of cucumber is to observe a small, immaturely developed melon that is characteristic of the lower part of the female flower.
Is cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?
Going back to the title of the article, is the cucumber, the fruit of the cucumber, that we eat every day, considered a vegetable or a fruit?
The debate about fruits and vegetables is actually an open question. We can analyze the definition of fruit and vegetable through several different perspectives.
First of all, Wechsler’s Dictionary gives the explanation of “fruit”: a generic term for plant fruits that contain a lot of water for consumption.
This explanation can be interpreted as an expansion of the word water and the word fruit, so does cucumber meet this definition?
First of all, the water content of cucumber is as high as 96%, and secondly, it is the fruit of the plant cucumber, botany to the fleshy peculiar fruit of the family Cucurbitaceae, a special name, called gourd fruit.
In summary, we can at least admit that the cucumber meets the literal definition of “fruit”.
But this is, after all, contrary to normal human understanding, so many encyclopedias explain the fruit as “a juicy and sweet fruit of a flowering plant or a less watery, but sweet fruit of a plantain.”
This solves the problem of attribution of certain controversial plant fruits.
The History of Cucumbers
But in 1887, the United States was in court over whether tomatoes were a vegetable or a fruit.
The root of this fiasco was that, according to the tariff laws of the time, imported vegetables were subject to a customs duty of nearly 10%, but fruits were not subject to tax.
So some merchants who imported tomatoes, after consulting with botanists, took New York’s customs revenue department to court – the tomatoes should be classified as a fruit.
The merchants’ evidence for their suit was just a few authoritative English dictionaries, and they read aloud the definitions of fruit and vegetable in court and proved that the two words had no other special designation in the trade.
Therefore, tomatoes are fruits derived from seeds and meet the definition of a fruit.
Faced with the defense’s argument that “green beans and eggplants are also planted fruits, but they are indeed vegetables,” the merchants pointed out that “tomatoes have a sweet taste, unlike such fruits.
Thus, the lawsuit lasted for six years, and eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes are a vegetable because of the way they are cooked and the public perception of them.
At the same time, they cited two existing cases as the basis for their ruling: when words have a special meaning in commerce or trade, the courts should adopt their ordinary meaning.
In fact, the classification of fruits and vegetables does not have much academic significance, and their definitions are more based on custom.
Fruits are often considered fruits if they can be eaten raw, are succulent, and contain the seeds of the plant.
Vegetables, on the other hand, are used in cooking and include the roots, stems, leaves, and other parts of the plant. In addition, fruits that cannot be eaten raw and are not sweet enough are also considered to be vegetables rather than fruits.
When someone still tells you that cucumber or tomato is a fruit in “cold knowledge”, “popular science”, etc., we can laugh it off. The author is using the botanical definition of fruit speculatively to get attention.
With all the stories behind cucumbers, it is important to mention again that the food value of cucumbers themselves should not be overlooked.
From a nutritional point of view, cucumber can be used as an ideal moisturizing and cooling food due to its super high water content.
Cucumbers are rich in B vitamins and vitamin C, among others, which can function in the fight against antioxidants.
Cucumber has very low food calories and is mostly fiber-like except for 96% water, thus regulating digestion and improving intestinal discomfort.
On a pathological level, the anti-inflammatory aspect, cucumber can intercept and block the inflammatory response, due to the fact that some extracts of cucumber can inhibit the activity of enzymes that promote the inflammatory response.
A class of flavonol chemicals called laccase, contained in cucumber may help improve memory and memory cell decline.
Various lignans contained in cucumber have even been found in studies to reduce the risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Cucumber is an important part of a healthy human diet, and a variety of natural food sources to supplement various essential nutrients is far safer and more effective than simply taking a combination of nutrients.
Plant resources are a treasure trove of scientific research and a landscape that inspires a love of nature.