In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary – together with seeds – of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds. When discussing fruit as food, the term usually refers to those plant fruits that are sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plums, apples and oranges. However, a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are the fruit of the plant species they come from.
A fruit is a ripened ovary. After the ovule in an ovary is fertilized in a process known as pollination, the ovary begins to ripen. The ovule develops into a seed and the ovary wall may become fleshy (as in berries or drupes), or form a hard outer covering (as in nuts). Development continues until the seeds have matured. With some multiseeded fruits the extent to which the flesh develops is proportional to the number of fertilized ovules.
Fruits are so varied in form and development, that it is difficult to devise a classification scheme that includes all known fruits. Many common terms for seeds and fruit used in various fruit recipes are incorrectly applied, a fact that complicates understanding of the terminology. In botanical terminology, a nut is a type of fruit and not another term for seed.
Part of the Food Pyramid model, fruits are generally high in fiber, water and vitamin C. Fruits also contain various phytochemicals that are required for proper long-term cellular health and disease prevention. Regular consumption of fruit is associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with aging.