Are Beans Vegetable or Fruits

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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At some point in the past, you’ve likely asked yourself – Are beans vegetable? – but the full answer is a bit more complicated.

Are Beans Vegetable, Fruit, Legume or Grain?

Beans are a unique food, and a very important one in our diet. Technically speaking, beans are a mature form of legumes and are closely related to lentils and peas. Legumes are seeds, pods or other edible parts of a member of the pea family (Fabaceae).

Interestingly enough, due to the unique nutrient composition of beans, they also fall into other classifications, particularly when discussing diet and nutrition. For vegetarians, beans often represent a meat-free protein alternative, since beans are famously high in amino acids and protein, as well as zinc and iron.

Close up of spoons with varieties of lentils and beans on a wooden table

Beans, peas, and lentils are all types of legumes. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Beans are also commonly thought of as vegetables, because of their starchy nature and the ease with which they can be combined with other vegetables and greens in many dishes. Beyond that, beans are also rich in nutrients commonly found in vegetables, such as folate and potassium, and are a good source of complex carbohydrates. In some ways, this also makes them similar to grains.

Botanically, however, mature beans in the pod are considered fruits, because they are the seed-bearing organ grown from an ovary. While “fruit” is often the last group in which beans are placed, there is no denying botany!

As you can see, beans have a versatile nutrient profile that has earned it a unique status, and an important place in any healthy diet.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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