What is Zucchini?
Zucchini or Courgette is an easy-to-grow summer squash which can reach nearly a meter in length, but is usually harvested immature at 15–25 cm. It is native to Central America and Mexico.
Zucchini can grow to massive sizes, but bigger does not necessarily mean better when it comes to this garden favorite. Small and medium-sized zucchinis (six to eight inches long and two inches in diameter) are more flavorful. The bigger the zucchini, the harder, seedier, and less flavorful it becomes. Look for dark-skinned zucchinis, which are richer in nutrients.
Health Benefits of Zucchini
- Helps to lose weight
- Helps to prevent cancer
- Helps to maintain optimal health
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Protects against infections and diseases
- Aids in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy in men
- Beneficial in reducing aching symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Helps to Lose Weight: Zucchini is a great way to satisfy your appetite if you are on diet because it is extremely low in calories, but it gives you the feeling of being full. Apart from the low calorie count, zucchini has a high water content and is rich in fiber. Hence, when you eat zucchini, your stomach is not empty, thereby making zucchini perfect recipes.
Maintains Optimal Health: It’s outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C, zucchini is the best source of dietary fiber that will keep your body in the best shape for the long run. Zucchini is probably the best example of squash that has such a rich array of nutrients, including sugar, carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, minerals, amino acids and more.
It also contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus. This summer squash also has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and protein. Moreover, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, and calcium in zucchini assure optimal health. The folate ingredient of zucchini is highly commendable for pregnant women as well.
Overall Cardiovascular Protection: Zucchini is rich in nutritional value, especially during the summer, when it delivers countless advantages to the body. The food ranking systems in zucchini-rich countries have declared this squash has abundant of manganese and vitamin C that helps to keep the heart strong.
Promotes Men’s Health: Many researchers have taken extracts from this squash to conduct certain studies and concluded that this fruit has certain properties that effectively treat an ailment in men called BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy. When the prostate gland becomes enlarged in an odd shape and size, which can cause trouble with both sexual and urinary function – this is known as prostatic hypertrophy. A good treatment of this is seen in combination with other foods that contain phytonutrients; zucchini is said to be extremely useful in decreasing BPH symptoms.
During the research, most of these nutrients are shown to be effective in the prevention of diabetic heart disease and atherosclerosis. The magnesium content notably reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In combination with potassium, magnesium also helps in reducing high blood pressure. The vitamin C and beta-carotene found in summer squash helps in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol builds up on blood vessel walls, but these nutrients reduce the development of atherosclerosis. The vitamin folate is required by the body to eliminate an unsafe metabolic by product called homocysteine, which can result in heart attacks and strokes if the levels rise too high. Zucchini’s fiber content lowers high cholesterol levels as well, thereby helping reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease due to diabetes.
Keeps You Disease-Free: Your overall health will surely improve if you consume zucchini regularly. It helps you prevent all kinds of diseases in a general sense. Studies have already declared that fiber-rich foods help to alleviate cancer conditions by washing away the cancer-causing toxins from cells in the colon. The vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene content in zucchini helps to protect these cells from the harmful chemicals that can lead to colon cancer. Beta-carotene and vitamin C also have anti-inflammatory properties, thereby naturally curing ailments like osteoarthritis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis, where swelling is immensely painful. The copper percentage in zucchini also helps in reducing the aching symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Uses of Zucchini
This summer squash is versatile and budget-friendly. It can be used as zucchini slices, pizza, soup, zucchini bread, salad.
Raw Zucchini Salad – Chopped or sliced thin using a mandolin slicer or sharp knife, served with crunchy pine nuts or sliced almonds, currants, a little goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Zucchini Pancakes – You may make these either savoury or with traditional pancake batter, adding a little lemon zest and grated (and drained of excess moisture) zucchini.
Zucchini Egg Muffins – Basically like an individual frittata, easily made by whisking together eggs and lightly coating a muffin tin with cooking oil spray. Placing a slice or two of zucchini on the bottom and then filling the cup about ½ way with eggs (you can add a little cheese, salt, pepper, and other herbs to the eggs to increase flavour). Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
Zucchini “Fries” – Cut the zucchini lengthwise into “sticks” about ½ thick on all sides and about 3 to 4 inches long. You can toss in a little Parmesan and almond flour as a crust and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
Zucchini “Noodles” – One of our favourite fresh ideas is to make noodles either using a spiralizer or a julienner. You can use the noodles just like pasta – they are wonderful heated up and smothered in your favourite sauce. Or raw foodies love them as is and topped with a raw nut pesto and sliced tomatoes.
Nutritional value of Zucchini
• Due to its high water content, helps hydrate the body and skin
• Low in calories and high in nutrients and fiber
• Contains the antioxidant: vitamins A, C, beta-carotene, zinc and manganese
• Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids
• Contains B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium