With its deep emerald skin and buttery yellow flesh, zucchini has long been one of the most popular members of the squash family. Zucchini (also known as the ‘courgette’), is bursting with great nutrients, and (of course) it also tastes delicious!
Zucchini is a summer squash. If left to grow naturally, it can grow to around three feet, but it tastes softer and sweeter if picked at about six inches long. The standard variety has green skin, but some specialist versions have beautiful yellow or orange skins. The common zucchini looks like a small cucumber, but you can find other shapes—the globe zucchini is particularly popular, as it’s great for stuffing. Zucchini can be steamed, fried, broiled, or added to broths and stews. However, it also tastes wonderful raw.
Why zucchini is so good for us
Zucchini is packed with important vitamins and antioxidants to boost our health. It’s a great source of vitamin C, which combines with manganese to help our bodies build healthy connective tissue. Vitamin C also helps us produce collagen which we need for a strong supple skin that heals quickly when damaged. Meanwhile, the vitamin A in zucchini strengthens our immune system so we can fight off infections, and helps us to see better in low light conditions. Magnesium is also found in zucchini, helping to build healthy nerves and muscles, as well as a good immune system. Zucchini is even low in calories and high in fiber.
With so many important ingredients, it’s easy to see why zucchini brings fantastic health benefits.
Controlling cholesterol levels
One cup of zucchini contains 10% of the recommended daily intake of fiber. Our liver produces bile to help us break down fats in our food, and the soluble fibre in zucchini binds with the bile, prompting the liver to produce more. This lowers cholesterol levels, promoting heart health.
Zucchini also helps our cardio-vascular system in other ways. A portion of zucchini contains 10% of our recommended magnesium intake, as well as folic acid, both of which keep our cardiovascular system functioning well and can prevent strokes and heart attacks.
Protects against some cancers
Zucchini’s fiber content also helps to keep our digestive system functioning efficiently, playing an important role in the fight against colon cancer by quickly flushing toxins from the body. The antioxidants in zucchini have also been shown to help ward off other cancers by strengthening the body’s ability to produce healthy cells rather than potentially carcinogenic ones. Further, zucchini has phytonutrients that promote a healthy prostate and may lessen the risk of developing this common male cancer.
As well as vitamins A and C, zucchini contains anti-inflammatory chemicals that can ease the symptoms of autoimmune conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Helps with weight loss
Zucchini is a wonderful choice if you’re looking to control your weight. The high levels of fiber and moisture keep you feeling fuller for longer. Further, the manganese in zucchini helps your body metabolize proteins and carbohydrates more efficiently so you feel fit and healthy.
Ways to enjoy zucchini
Now you’ve seen the superb health benefits of zucchini, you might be wondering about the best ways to enjoy it. Fortunately, it’s a wonderfully versatile vegetable that tastes delicious on its own or combined with other ingredients.
At its simplest, you can simply sizzle zucchini in a griddle pan and splash with olive oil and lemon juice for a mouth-watering side dish. Alternatively, sprinkle fried zucchini with parmesan for a crunchy snack, or add to tortillas for a more substantial lunch. For a tasty dinner, bake with a cheesy topping to make zucchini gratin, or sauté with other vegetables and stir into pasta. Zucchini can be grated and added to bread recipes for a different take, or sliced thinly and used raw in salads to add an unusual texture.
Finally, if you grow your own zucchini, you can indulge in a very special treat. Dip the newly-opened flowers in tempura batter and briefly fry them to create a gorgeously crunchy nibble.