Zucchini: Facts, Uses and Health Benefit!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id: vidula708@gmail.com

Zucchini is originally from Mexico where it was domesticated 5000 years ago. Other common names of Zucchini include Summer Squash, Courgette, Crookneck Squashes and Custard Squash.

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a widely cultivated summer squash in the family Cucurbitaceae which also includes melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds. It is a vigorous annual, monoecious, trailing vine which bears fruits that are widely used as culinary vegetables.

Nutritional Value in Zucchini: (1)

Zucchini is low in calories with a lot of nutrition such as carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. Other vitamins present in lesser quantities include vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamine, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Given below is the amount of nutrients present in 135 gm, raw zucchini:

Calories: 17

Protein: 1.4 gm

Carbohydrate: 3.6 gm

Total Fat: 0.17 gm

Fiber: 1.5 gm

Vitamin C: 11 mg

Zucchini/ Summer Squash

Culinary usage:

  • Zucchini has a delicate flavour and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs. The skin is left in place.
  • Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded, in a cold salad, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes.
  • Mature (larger sized) zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads.
  • Unlike cucumber, zucchini is usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés.
  • Zucchini can also be baked into a bread similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake mix similar to carrot cake. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

Fun facts about zucchini: (2)

  • Zucchini is a warm season crop. It has a short growing season compared to melons and cucumbers. Once the fruit starts to grow, it can grow one inch per day.
  • Zucchini is a summer squash. It is di­fferent from winter squash because it is harvested and eaten before it matures, so the rind is soft. It is the most common summer squash.
  • Zucchini is best when picked small (about 6-8” long).
  • Zucchini is considered a vegetable in our diet, but botanically it is the immature fruit of the plant.
  • A zucchini plant has large, dark green leaves.
  • Zucchini originated in Italy, but most squash varieties came to America from Europe.
  • The Native Americans introduced squash as one of the “Three Sisters.” The three native plants used for agriculture were corn, beans and squash.

Health Benefits:

  • Zucchini is a good source of Vitamin C. Zucchini helps to ward o­ germs and keep us healthy.
  • Eating zucchini regularly reduces oxidation and inflammation within the body. This boosts your immunity and protects against diseases associated with inflammation.
  • By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the fibre and water content of your food. This means that you will feel full for longer and end up eating less and you will lose some of your excess weight.
  • Because zucchini is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially folate, riboflavin, and B6, it can help to boost energy production in the body. This reduces fatigue and improves moods.
  • Zucchini is a good source of health-protecting antioxidants and phytonutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin, and lutein; which maintain and improve eye health.
  • Zucchini is low in fat and sodium, but high in fibre and potassium. These properties help to maintain healthy blood circulation.
  • Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation; which slows down aging.
  • Zucchini is high in water. It also contains significant amounts of fibre, electrolytes, and other nutrients that are necessary for better digestion.

Conclusion:

For all these interesting health benefits; we must include Zucchini in our daily diet.

References:

  1. http://www.richfieldmn.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=7100
  2. https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/94/School%20Grant%20Program/Year%202%20Lessons%20Revised/FINAL%20combined%202-3%20Zucchini%20Sept%20reduced%20size.pdf

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