Oh Green Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) (1), How I love thee ! Let me count the ways.
That’s true. You will find so many ways that zucchini is good for us. It is a popular summer squash which belongs to the cucumber and melon family.
What is Zucchini?
- It is usually 1 meter long and its colour ranges from dark to light green with some mottling. Its flesh is white and tender with a light and delicate flavor.
- It resembles a cucumber in appearance but some varieties are round.
- Zucchini is picked when it is about 8 cm long and the seeds are soft and immature. A mature zucchini can reach up to a length of 3 feet. It is often fibrous in nature and therefore, not fit to eat.
- The French refer to this vegetable as “courgette”, a term that is used interchangeably for yellow squash.
- Small varieties of zucchini are less bland and watery than others. Zucchini is usually cooked to make savoury dishes. It can also be eaten raw in the form of salads where it can be sliced and shredded in cold and hot salads.
- Golden zucchini is a hybrid variety which is deep yellow or orange in colour.
- Zucchini in Hindi is known as “tōrī” whereas Zucchini in Tamil is known as “cīmai curaikkāy”. Zucchini in Telugu is called “nethi beerakaya”.
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Types of Zucchini:
Almost all the members of the squash family comprise of vegetables that have smooth, tender skin and flesh with small, edible seeds and high moisture content. There are several varieties of zucchini, depending upon their cultivars. Some popular varieties are as follows.
- Golden zucchini: This variety is characterized by brilliant golden yellow to orange skin which retains its colour even after being cooked.
- Round varieties: These are dense, heavy and almost seedless with a smooth surface.
- Tatume: Commonly found in Mexico, their features are similar to the round variety except that they have a large oval shape.
- Costata romanesco: Also known as “cocozelle”, this is basically a long and narrow variety with a slight bulge at the bottom end. It has a mottled green skin with pale, raised ribs. When solid and immature, it has a juicy and sweet taste.
- Yellow crooknecks: These are characterized by thick warty skin with markedly curved necks. They have a crunchy texture and a sweet delicate flavour.
- Middle-eastern variety: As evident from their name, this variety is common in the Middle Eastern countries. In India it is referred to as “tori”. They have stocky, pale green, tapering ends with a thick dark green stem. They are characterized by smooth, shiny skin and solid, crispy and flavorful flesh.
Health Benefits Of Zucchini:
Apart from being made into a delicious and savory dish, zucchini is beneficial for your health in a variety of ways, thanks to the vitamins and minerals contained in even a small serving of this vegetable. Some of the health benefits of Zucchini vegetable are as follows:
[ VIDEO: Health Benefits Of Zucchini]
1. Lowers Cholesterol:
- The dietary fiber contained in zucchini helps in lowering the cholesterol levels in the system by attaching itself with the bile acids that are produced by the liver for digesting fat.
- This fiber mixes with bile acid, thus slowing down its ability to digest more fat and charging the liver to produce more bile acids.
- More cholesterol is used up by the liver in the production of bile acids which results in lowering cholesterol levels in the body (2).
- The high levels of Vitamins A and C prevent the cholesterol from oxidizing in the blood vessels, thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.
2. Helps in Weight Management:
- Zucchini is effective for weight management due to its healthy combination of high fiber and moisture content and a low calorie content.
- It is beneficial for weight management as it controls your appetite by filling you up with water and fiber. Thus, you can have larger servings of zucchini and still keep your caloric intake low.
- The high dietary fiber (3) on the other hand enables you to shed extra pounds as it helps to burn more calories than you consume.
- Zucchini is a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin A and C and dietary fiber, you can effectively lose weight by consuming it without depriving your body of vital nutrients.
3. Cardiovascular Health:
- Zucchini has high magnesium content with one cup providing over 10% of the RDA. This mineral reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Zucchini also contains folic acid, a vitamin that is required to break down the dangerous amino acid, homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine in your blood can cause heart attack and thrombosis i.e. blood clotting.
4. Prevents Cancer:
- The high levels of fiber in zucchini prevent carcinogenic toxins from settling in the colon as well as promote healthy and regular bowel movements.
- Vitamins A and C are strong anti-oxidizing agents that destroy the carcinogens which can lead to different types of malignant cancers (4).
5. Beneficial in Diabetes:
- The abundance of Vitamin B complex in zucchini benefits diabetics. Diabetes is caused due to the inability of the body to metabolize and regulate the level of sugar in your blood (5).
- There are many types of diabetes and zucchini is particularly effective in warding off type-2 diabetes.
- The B complex vitamins, in the presence of zinc and magnesium help in breaking down the sugar in your body whereas fiber and pectin are vital in regulating the blood sugar levels. This combination of Vitamin B, folates and fiber goes a long way in keeping type-2 diabetes at bay.
6. Maintains Eye Health:
- Zucchini vegetable is a great source of Vitamin A which is beneficial for eye health.
- Vitamin C along with beta carotene, zinc and manganese acts as an antioxidant to protect your eyes.
- Zucchini helps in developing the cells of your eyes, thus improving your vision.
- It can also be used externally to remove puffy bags around your eyes which can be caused due to excessive water retention
- Zucchini has a high water content that helps in removing the swelling around your eyes (6).
7. Lowers Blood Pressure:
- Potassium and magnesium found in zucchini help in lowering blood pressure levels in the body. Regular consumption of zucchini benefits those suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure (7).
- High blood pressure, if left unchecked can lead to arteriosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels), heart attack, stroke and other medical conditions.
- Both potassium and magnesium are effective in alleviating stress on the body’s circulatory system.
8. Promotes Prostate Health:
The phytonutrients in zucchini help in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BOH). This is a condition characterized by enlargement of the prostate gland, leading to complications with urination and sexual functions (8).
9. Prevents Gout:
- Gout is a painful condition of the inflammation of the joints, caused due to excessive uric acid in the body. Zucchini is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory carotenoids that can counter the effects of excessive uric acid.
- Gout affects your knees and feet and often results in difficulties in walking. Its treatment requires a strict diet control which includes an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and zero intake of red meat and fatty foods. The alkaline property of zucchini acts against the uric acid in your joints, thus relieving its symptoms.
- Zucchini also contains powerful antioxidant vitamins, A and C which along with copper prevent the development of many hyper-inflammatory disorders like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (9).
10. Benefits of Manganese:
- Manganese is an essential nutrient and trace mineral which provides many health benefits and facilitates normal physiological functions. A cup of zucchini provides 19% of the RDA of manganese (10).
- This mineral helps to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates, and is involved in the production of sex hormones and catalyzes the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol.
It also increases the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), an enzyme that provides protection against oxidative stress.
Skin Benefits of Zucchini:
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients and hence are good for your skin. Zucchini is rich in Vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants which can benefit your skin in many ways.
11. Hydrates your Skin:
- Zucchini has a high water content which hydrates your skin. Water in general is beneficial for your skin as it flushes out toxins from your system.
- Regular consumption of zucchini helps restore the moisture of your skin, providing you with a glowing skin.
12. Anti-ageing Benefits:
- Zucchini is a good source of Vitamins A and C which are powerful antioxidants. Vitamin A helps in maintaining a healthy skin whereas Vitamin C fights the harmful free radicals.
- These free radicals are responsible for causing ageing of the skin, resulting in the appearance of spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Eating zucchini can prevent these signs of ageing to a significant extent (11).
13. Aids in Collagen Formation:
14. Treatment of Puffy Eyes:
External application of zucchini helps to remove puffy bags around your eyes. These are caused due to excessive water retention and the high water content in zucchini helps in reducing swelling around your eyes.
Hair Benefits of Zucchini:
Just like the rest of the body, proper nutrition is a prerequisite of healthy hair. Inadequate nutrition is often the root cause of hair and scalp problems. To maintain a healthy mane, taking a balanced diet is inevitable as the hair follicles require adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen for their growth and maintenance. Zucchini contributes to overall health including hair health.
15. Promotes Hair Growth:
- Zucchini is rich in Vitamin A and C and is beneficial for your hair.
- Vitamin C is vital for maintaining healthy collagen in the connective tissue and around the hair follicles.
- Vitamin A, on the other hand, protects your hair from free radicals. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause hair dryness.
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Yes, zucchini is a superfood and the best way to reap its benefits is to incorporate it into your diet .Here are a few quick tips to include it in your diet
Incorporate Zucchini in Your Diet:
- Use in Cupcakes and bread and loaf cakes. Incorporate 1 cup of grated raw zucchini into the batter for a more nutritious bite
- Stir fry , saute or make zucchini chips
- Use raw in Salads
- Use as a Sabzi
Nutritional Value of Zucchini
This summer squash is a nutritious treat whose daily consumption is equivalent to nine ½ cup servings of fruits and vegetables consumed each day. It comprises of nutrients like Vitamins A, B, C, E and K; and dietary fiber as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese and folates. Its nutritional value is further enhanced by beta-carotene which is a powerful antioxidant.
|See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients: Zucchini (Cucumis pepo), raw with skin|
|Nutrition value per 100 g.|
|(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)|
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.32 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||1 g||3%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.204 mg||5%|
|Vitamin A||200 IU||7%|
|Vitamin C||17.9 mg||30%|
|Vitamin E||0.12 mg||<1%|
|Vitamin K||4.3 µg||4%|
- Calories: Since zucchini vegetable has high water content, it is very low in calories. One medium raw zucchini provides 33 calories, 2.37 grams of proteins and 6.1 gram of carbohydrates.
- Vitamins: Like other dark green vegetables, zucchini is a good source of Vitamin A. One medium zucchini provides 392 international units (IU) of Vitamin A. The recommended amount of this vitamin is 3000 IU for men and 2333 IU for women. It also contains the water-soluble antioxidant, Vitamin C. 100 grams of zucchini provides 30% of the RDA of this vitamin. In addition to these, it contains moderate amounts of B-complex vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, and riboflavin.
- Dietary Fiber: Raw or grilled zucchini is a good source of dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate. One large zucchini provides about 3.2 grams of fiber. The RDA of fiber is 14 grams for a 1000 calorie diet, 21 grams for a 1500 calorie diet and 28 grams for a 2000 calorie diet.
- Magnesium: This mineral plays an important role in muscle contraction by supporting the function of actin and myosin, the proteins abundant in the muscle fibers. A large zucchini provides about 58 mg of magnesium which is equivalent to 14% of the RDA for men and women respectively.
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- Potassium: Zucchini is a great source of potassium, a mineral that is vital for proper functioning of the organs, tissues and cells in your body. One medium zucchini contains about 512 mg of potassium as against the daily recommended amount of 4700 mg.
- Folate: Raw and grilled zucchini vegetable also contains folate or Vitamin B9 which supports metabolism by aiding in protein and nucleic acid metabolism. One large zucchini provides about 78 micrograms of folate which is equivalent to 20% of the RDA.
- Antioxidants: Zucchinis have antioxidant value or Oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) of about 180 Trolex equivalents (TE) per 100 grams. They are also rich in flavonoid phenolic antioxidants like carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Hope you liked this article highlighting the benefits of zucchini for skin, hair and health! Do share your experience with us in the comment section given below:
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