Zucchini, a summer squash, is a member of the gourd family. It originated from Central America from where it has spread to the rest of the world.
This popular succulent vegetable does well in warm weather, in places with moist, fertile soil. It takes 35 to 60 days from planting to first harvest. The plant grows to a height of two and a half feet. For best flavor, the fruits should be harvested when they are 4-8 inches.
Darker fruits are usually higher in nutrients. But what are the nutritional benefits of zucchini?
Zucchini contains zero fat, and is high in water and fiber. It also contains significant amounts of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like potassium and manganese.
The summer squash also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. This makes zucchini, also known as courgette, a nutrient-dense food that you should include in your diet.
Incorporating zucchini in your diet can help improve digestion including reducing the incidence of constipation and other digestive issues. It is high in water. It also contains significant amounts of fiber, electrolytes, and other nutrients that are necessary for a healthy digestive system. Regular consumption of zucchini can also help prevent ulcers, IBS, and colon cancer.
Slows down aging
Aging results from the activity of toxins, free radicals, and inflammation that the body is exposed to over the years. These poisons and inflammation can be reduced by antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods. It is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation.
Lowers blood sugar levels
High blood sugar levels and diabetes are problems that are worsened by a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fiber. By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the intake of fiber. You can also reduce your carbohydrate intake because you will feel full for longer. These diet changes can help reduce your blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
This can mean that your body no longer requires excessive amounts of insulin to process sugar. This can change your risk of developing diabetes. Studies show that including at least 30 grams of fiber in your daily diet lowers your risk of getting diabetes significantly.
Supports healthy circulation and a healthy heart
Zucchini is low in fat and sodium, but high in fiber and potassium. These properties help to maintain healthy blood circulation. Low sodium and high potassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure while fiber, such as the polysaccharide in zucchini, lowers cholesterol levels.
This combination works synergistically to maintain good circulation, which is necessary for healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart.
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Improves eye health
Zucchini is a good source of health-protecting antioxidants and phytonutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Zeaxanthin and lutein are especially useful in maintaining and improving eye healthby fighting free radicals. This reduces the risk of developing age-related eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
You can also use zucchini to treat puffy eyes by placing slices of raw zucchini over the eyes. Leave the slices in place for about 30 minutes and repeat several times in a day.
All these zucchini benefits are impressive, so aim to add more to your meals, and if you can, try growing your own.