Zucchini which is also known as courgette originates from America. It is available on the market in light green, yellow or green colors. The shape of this small summer squash is similar to that of a ridged cucumber and contains numerous seeds.
Though zucchini is a fruit, it is cooked as a vegetable because it is best when consumed in cooked dishes. Zucchini’s are picked when it is below 8in/20cm in length and the seeds are young and soft. A fully developed zucchini is usually 3 feet long, but they are most often too much fibrous and not good for consumption. Young zucchini have a soft covering, subtle taste and buttery white flesh. Almost all the parts of zucchini are edible, including the seeds, its flesh and even the skin.
Health Benefits of Zucchini
1. Optimal Health Maintenance
Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C and manganese. It is the best source of dietary fiber that helps keep your body in the best shape.
Also, it contains magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, folate, phosphorus and copper. This summer squash also has high content of zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and niacin.
Moreover, the vitamin B6, B1, B2, and calcium in zucchini provide optimal health.
Zucchini is the best example of squash that has such a rich array of nutrients, which inludes carbohydrates, sugar, insoluble and soluble fiber, minerals, sodium, amino acids and more. The folate component in zucchini is highly commendable for pregnant women.
2. Helps Lower Cholesterol
Zucchini has a high-fiber content, which helps in lowering cholesterol. Its high levels of vitamin A and Vitamin C, help in delaying the beginning of atherosclerosis, by keeping the cholesterol from oxidizing your body’s blood vessels. Zucchini helps your body remove excess toxins.
3. Helps in Weight Loss
Consuming zucchini help you to lose weight considerably. Zucchini is very low in calories, but it gives you the feeling of being full.
Zucchini is the perfect food to satisfy your appetite without getting calories and starting a crash diet plan. Also, zucchini has a high water content and is rich in fiber. Therefore, when you consume zucchini, your stomach is not empty, thereby making zucchini meals’ perfect, if you are on diet.
4. Heart Health
Zucchini contains a good amount of potassium, which is 295 milligrams per cup, or 8% of your recommended daily value. As per the American Heart Association, potassium can help control blood pressure, because it reduces the harmful effects of salt on your body.
Zucchini also has high antioxidant content and vitamin C, which may help the lining of your blood cells function better, protect against clogged arteries and lower blood pressure. Just a cup of sliced zucchini has 20 milligrams, or about 33% of your daily value.
5. Eye Health
Zucchini when used externally helps in removing the puffy bags that develop around your eyes due to excessive water retention. The swelling around your eyes lessen, due to the water-rich content.
Also, its carotenoid Beta-carotene content can be converted into vitamin A in the body. The presence of Vitamin A, helps in active cell development in your eyes, which enhances vision and helps in preventing age-related medical conditions which can affect your eyes such as macular degeneration.
6. Prevents Colon Cancer
The fiber in zucchini is the reason it can help in the treatment of colon cancer. The fiber does multiple things, such as, it absorbs the excess water in the colon, retains enough moisture in the fecal matter and helps it to pass smoothly out of your body.
Though exact knowledge about the sub-types of insoluble and soluble fiber is important, dietary fiber as a whole has been associated to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (33).
How to Cook Zucchini?
95% of zucchini content is water. Therefore, when it is cooked, water will ooze out. So, you need to salt the zucchinis first and then drain the excess water out, before the preparation is done.
When eating this fruit, do not remove the skin because it comprises the important nutrient beta-carotene, which is the vitamin component acting as an antioxidant, that protects cells from oxidation damage.
The edible flowers of zucchini are often used in Italian and French cooking. One of the easiest ways of eating zucchini is by sprinkling grated zucchini or other varieties of summer squash on sandwiches and salads. You can also add zucchini to your favorite bread recipe; thereby reducing the amount of liquid in the recipe, since the zucchini is compensating for moisture in a different way.