Most of us around the world know this particular squash as the zucchini, though some people around the world might call it the marrow or courgette. Whatever you call it, you might think that the zucchini is actually a vegetable, but is technically a fruit. Zucchini also comes in a couple of different colors including yellow, though you’re likely more familiar with the green variety that can often be confused with a cucumber.
Zucchini gets used in a lot of different ways in the culinary world, but not many people eat zucchini by itself. We’re here to tell you that you should consider doing just that, though, as it brings a lot of great health benefits. Zucchini has its own distinct flavor that can be enjoyed in these hotter months of the year to increase your overall health and provide some boosts that you didn’t know about. To show you why the zucchini is such an effective food, let’s breakdown the nutritional value and point out some of these great health benefits that you get from adding zucchini to your diet.
Nutrition of Zucchini
Zucchini is one of those foods that you can eat, and eat and eat without packing in too many calories. Each 100 gram serving (around 3.5 ounces) contains just 21 calories, with five percent of both your daily protein and dietary fiber recommendations. Zucchini is also packed with nutrients, delivering more than half of your daily recommendation of vitamin C. You also get 10 percent of your needed vitamin A and significant amounts of other vitamins such as vitamin B6, folate, thiamin and niacin.
As for the minerals, you’ll get more than 10 percent of your recommended potassium and manganese, and close to 10 percent of both magnesium and phosphorus. Other minerals found in smaller amounts in zucchini include zinc, copper, iron and calcium. Zucchini has under a half gram of fat and no cholesterol, as well, throwing in more than 100 milligrams of helpful omega-3 fatty acids to go with it. Not too bad for just about 20 calories, is it?
You’ve probably heard about some of those foods that are considered to be “negative calorie” in the regard that your body will actually use more calories to digest the food than the amount of calories you take in. While these foods have been disputed in being “negative,” zucchini does have a very low amount of calories. With only about 20 in each serving (and a pretty large serving at that), zucchini is a food to avoid if you’re looking to gain any weight.
There’s even a small amount of fiber thrown in with zucchini that will help you feel more full throughout the day. It’s not significant, but every little bit helps and eating zucchini with other high fiber foods is a great way to lose weight. The sheer volume of zucchini will also help you feel full if you’re one of those people that tends to get cravings while on a weight loss plan.
Good For the Heart
Of course, maintaining a healthy weight will also make it easier to keep your heart in great health, too. That’s just one of the ways that zucchini can help your heart, as there are also a lot of helpful nutrients. Potassium is one of the most helpful minerals that you can get for your heart, as it relieves the stress and increases the strength of your vessels. Magnesium also plays a large role in heart health, reducing your chances of heart disease and stroke.
With no cholesterol or saturated fat, zucchini is a great option if you’ve been looking to lower both your cholesterol and blood pressure. The fiber helps with your heart, as well, and overall you’ll see an increase in your heart’s efficiency. Studies have shown that the nutrients in zucchini benefit your heart, and there aren’t any compounds that have recognized side effects on heart health.
Fighting Off Diseases
There’s a pretty good rule of thumb that if you see something green, it’s going to be good for your overall health. That’s because these foods typically contain a lot of vitamins and antioxidants that will increase your longevity and keep diseases away. Among the high concentration of vitamins is vitamin C, which boosts your immune system tremendously by introducing more white blood cells that eliminate foreign invaders that make you sick.
The high antioxidant content in zucchini (including beta carotene) will also fight off free radicals in your body. These free radicals can attack cells, leading to serious problems such as cancer. Zucchini even has anti-inflammatory properties that will keep you healthy while also benefitting the heart, bones and just about every other part of your body. Simply said, zucchini increases your quality of life.
Zucchini, like a lot of other similar foods, is used in a lot of different beauty products because of the vitamin content. Vitamin C is the most beneficial vitamin that you can get for your skin, as it allows your body to produce collagen more naturally to increase elasticity. The antioxidants work with vitamin C (and also vitamin A) to clear out the free radicals that can also attack your skin and give you wrinkles or other signs of aging.
Eating more zucchini gives your skin a healthy glow and makes it more smooth, which even helps your scalp. Your hair will grow in faster and thicker when you’re eating more zucchini, and you’ll also grow healthier nails. Studies have even shown that eating more zucchini will slow down all signs of aging (such as vision and bone loss), both internal and external.
When you’re pregnant, there seems to be a much longer list of foods that you can’t eat compared to ones that you can. Zucchini is on the short list of foods that’s great for pregnant women, as well as babies. Zucchini contains a high amount of folate and magnesium that aids in pregnancy by reducing the risk of developmental issues. As for babies after their born, zucchini based foods are easy to digest, and can get rid of problems such as diarrhea or constipation. Of course, this also translates to adults as zucchini is great for your digestive system.
Summing it Up
Since zucchini has all of these great health benefits and offer up a lot of nutrition for such a low amount of calories, there has to be some sort of catch, right? For the most part, it’s incredibly rare that you’ll experience any negatives when eating zucchini. There’s a chance that pesticides could be used to grow zucchini, which can obviously be harmful, but that’s a rare occurrence. The only real thing you need to look out for is what can happen if you eat too much zucchini.
Zucchini contains oxalates (much like similar foods do), which won’t harm you when you’re eating a normal amount. When you eat massive quantities of zucchini, you might find yourself at risk for kidney stones. Again, though, most people won’t have to worry about this, meaning that zucchini is a fantastic food that you can add to your diet today, and start enjoying the health benefits!