If you want a veggie that’s extremely versatile, look no further than zucchini. Whether eaten raw or cooked, there are so many ways to enjoy this summer squash. Also called courgette, zucchini has its origin in America and is available in colours including yellow, light green, and green. The shape of this small summer squash resembles that of a ridged cucumber and features numerous seeds inside. As the culinary chameleon of the produce world, zucchini is known for its versatility. It is also great by itself, sautéed, grilled, or roasted. Not only is zucchini simple to use, but it’s also extremely beneficial to your health. It is packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It has a high fiber content and a low calorie count.
Health benefits of zucchini
Helps in losing weight: Zucchini is one of the very low-calorie vegetables; provides only 17 calories per 100g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. It plays a big role in weight loss while boosting the nutrient content of your diet. It is extremely low in calories, but it gives you the feeling of being full. Therefore, it is a great way to satisfy your appetite without needing a crash diet plan.
Keep diabetes in check: For anyone struggling with diabetes, zucchini can help combat problems controlling blood sugar levels since it is a very low-carb, low-glycemic veggie that helps prevent insulin spikes and dips.
Good for vision: Lutein and zeaxanthin are two types of carotenoid antioxidants found in zucchini nutrition that often get attention for defending the eyes from age-related diseases, thus offering natural treatment for macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. The squash is also a wonderful source of beta-carotene that can improve eye health and offer protection against infections.
Keeps cholesterol at bay: Zucchini is one of the few foods that are free of cholesterol, and hence you can include it in your cholesterol-lowering diet. Soluble fiber has been found to interfere with cholesterol absorption. This helps lower the bad cholesterol or LDL in the blood.
Best for your heart: Research suggests that eating foods rich in carotenoids could slow or lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The key phrase, though, is eating carotenoid-rich foods, not taking supplements. The potassium you get in zucchini is also good for your blood pressure, as is the fiber for general heart health.
Contains anti-aging properties: Zucchini is a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These two carotenoids exhibit powerful anti-aging properties. They protect the cells of the body and the skin from free radical damage, which may otherwise lead to premature aging. The vitamin C in zucchini is also responsible for the production of collagen, the main protein in your skin. Vitamin C may also assist in antioxidant protection and protect against age-related skin decline and UV-induced photodamage. Hence, intake of vitamin C appears to be a logical solution to slow down the signs of aging.
Some interesting ways to enjoy zucchini: There are lots of ways to enjoy zucchini, including eating raw, roasted or cooked zucchini.
- You can also slice raw zucchini and use it to dip in guacamole, hummus or other healthy spreads.
- You can dice the squash fruit and add it to your salad bowls for a refreshing boost.
- You can also add this tasty vegetable to add to any meal. It has a thin skin and soft, moist flesh that lends itself well to steaming, grilling, roasting, baking, and sautéing.
- At breakfast time, add to your egg scramble. Grated zucchini is used to make zucchini bread.
- Slice some zucchini and add it to your favourite sandwiches to get an amazing crunch.
- Play with the shape of your squash—dice it, julienne it, cut it into cubes, or get fancy and make pasta. Summer squash is a fantastic low-carb pasta option.
- Sautéed zucchini: Cut up zucchini into cubes and sauté it with olive oil or butter. Add some minced garlic, salt, and pepper to get a rich flavour.
Baked zucchini: Arrange a single layer of sliced up zucchini on a baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on it. Now crank up the oven to 350° and bake for about 40 minutes till the zucchini is golden brown in colour.
- Using wide zucchini ribbons or thinner ‘spiralised zucchini noodles’ (also called zoodles) in place of regular wheat pasta or lasagna noodles is another good choice for cutting down on refined carbs.
- Finally, don’t forget to try cooked squash as a salad topper or an ingredient to add healthy volume to any stir-fry, soup, omelet or tortilla wrap.
- To cook zucchini, you can either roast, grill, sauté, broil or steam the squash. It cooks pretty quickly and can become limp and watery when overcooked, so keep an eye on it since it quickly dispels its water and seeds while shrinking up.
Storage and food Safety
- Keep zucchini whole and unwashed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. *Before slicing, make sure you wash the skin thoroughly with a vegetable brush and cold water.
- To freeze summer squash, slice it, cube it, or grate it, spread it on a parchment-lined baking sheet to freeze, and then pack in a freezer bag. Frozen vegetables usually last about one year in the freezer. Note that frozen squash tends to be very mushy and its texture typically works well for making soups or baked goods.
- It is perfectly safe to eat raw zucchini and to eat the skin when you consume it. In fact, eating the skin maximises the antioxidant content. In addition, the seeds are edible, too.