Vegetables: Fun Facts

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
Source: The USDA Vegetable Laboratory
  • Bell peppers are usually sold green, but they can also be red, purple or yellow.
  • Tomatoes are very high in the carotenoid Lycopene; eating foods with carotenoids can lower your risk of cancer.
  • Other vegetables high in carotenoids are carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and collard greens.
  • Most of the nutrients in a potato reside just below the skin layer.
  • A horn worm can eat an entire tomato plant by itself in one day!
  • In the United States, more tomatoes are consumed than any other single fruit or vegetable!
  • California produces almost all of the broccoli sold in the United States.
  • White potatoes were first cultivated by local Indians in the Andes Mountains of South America.
  • Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing!
  • A baked potato (with skin) is a good source of dietary fiber (4 grams).
  • Actually a fruit, it took a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1893 to make the tomato a vegetable.
  • Potatoes first appeared in Europe in 1586; they made it to North America in 1719.
  • The potato disease “Late Blight” was the principal cause of the Irish Potato Famine, which killed a half million people.
  • It is recommended that you eat five servings of fruit or vegetables a day. A serving equals one-half cup.

More about these favorites:

The Potato

(Solanum tuberosum)

The potato has been an essential part of the world's diet for centuries. Originally cultivated in South America's Andean Mountains, potatoes found their way to Europe during the 16th century. By the end of 17th century the potato had become an important crop in Ireland. Today potatoes are grown in over 100 countries and in all 50 of the United States. According to the USDA, the average American eats 140 pounds of potatoes each year, including over 50 pounds of French fries!

Nutritional Information for a Medium-Sized Potato

Protein3 grams
Carbohydrate23 grams
Fat0 grams
Dietary fiber2710 milligrams
Sodium10 milligrams
Potassium750 milligrams

Potato Facts

  • Thomas Jefferson is given credit for introducing French fries to America.
  • Germans eat twice as many potatoes as Americans.
  • 35 % of an adult's daily requirement of vitamin C can be found in a medium-sized potato.
  • Mr. Potato Head was introduced by the Hasbro company in 1952.
  • Potatoes do not have to be stored in a refrigerator, but they should be kept dark and dry.
  • Potatoes are only 20% solids…and 80% water.

The Tomato

(Lycopersicon esculentum)

Originally cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D., the tomato is native to the Americas. Europeans were first made aware of the tomato when explorers brought back seed from Mexico and Central America in the 16th century. Tomatoes quickly became popular in the Mediterranean countries but received resistance as they spread north. The British in particular considered the fruit to be beautiful but poisonous. This fear was shared in the American colonies and it was years before the tomato gained widespread acceptance. By the middle of the 19th century, tomatoes were in use across America. Today the tomato is generally considered to be the favorite vegetable of the American public.

Nutritional Information

(average-sized tomato, 5 oz.)

Protein1 gram
Carbohydrate6 grams
Fat1 gram
Dietary fiber1 gram
Sodium15 milligrams
Potassium360 milligrams

Tomato Facts

  • The tomato is in the same family as the potato, pepper, eggplant, and petunia.
  • There are thousands of different tomato varieties.
  • The French used to refer to the tomato as the “apple of love.”
  • Scientists at Cornell University have identified two cancer-fighting substances in the tomato: P-courmaric and chlorogenic acids.
  • Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C.
  • A versatile vegetable for cooking, tomatoes can be prepared stuffed, baked, boiled, stewed, pickled, and fried, and are the base for many sauces.
  • Florida is the number one producer of fresh market tomatoes.
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