The Health Benefits of Zucchini
High in fiber, water, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, zucchini offers an abundance of nutrients to support your health. The water and fiber in this tender summer squash help you manage your weight by providing low-calorie volume. Its vitamins and minerals boost your immune system and promote the health of your heart, skin, lungs and eyes. To make the most of this vegetable's nutritional value, include its nutrient-rich skin when cooking with zucchini, the University of Illinois Extension advises.
Harvesting and Preparation
Zucchini and other summer squash are harvested in the warm months when the squash are not fully mature, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Because of their early harvest season, zucchini may not have the same nutritional value as winter squash, which mature for several more months. However, zucchini still offers vitamins A, C, folate, potassium, calcium and other nutrients, the University of Illinois adds. The flesh of the zucchini is soft enough that you can eat this vegetable raw or steam it for brief periods of time, retaining much of its nutritional content. If you grow your own zucchini, you can harvest its blossoms and eat them in salads or vegetable medleys.
One cup of sliced, boiled zucchini with skin has 27 calories, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 5 g carbohydrates and 1 g fat, according to the USDA. Vitamins and minerals include 2,011 international units (IU) vitamin A, 23 mg vitamin C, 50 mcg folate, 0.3 mg manganese, 475 mg potassium and 32 mg calcium.
This serving of zucchini provides 86 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 2,333 IU of vitamin A for women, and 67 percent of the RDA of 3,000 IU for men. Vitamin A promotes healthy eyesight, skin and lung function. Zucchini also provides vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that may help prevent the cellular damage caused by environmental toxins and harmful chemical processes within your body. Vitamin C may also support your immune system and promote respiratory health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Zucchini also offers potassium, an electrolyte that helps maintain your fluid balance and normalizes your blood pressure.
One cup of sliced, boiled zucchini has 171 g water and 2 g fiber, according to the USDA. The fiber and moisture in zucchini, combined with its low-calorie content, make it a low-energy food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Low-energy foods help you control your appetite and manage your weight by filling you up with water and fiber. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and other low-energy foods allows you to consume a higher volume of food with fewer calories and less fat.
The mild flavor of zucchini makes it a versatile ingredient in vegetable stir fries, pasta dishes or casseroles. Zucchini adds moisture and fiber to dessert breads or muffins. For a colorful vegetable dish, marinate slices of zucchini, yellow squash and red bell pepper in lime juice and olive oil, then grill on a hot skillet until vegetables begin to brown -- about five minutes.
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