Living in Tulsa, OK for 11 years, I asked the locals if crime was a problem. They replied, “well, in August you better be sure to lock your car, because otherwise someone might put a bag of zucchini in your car.” 🙂 People who grow zucchini, like me, harvest more than we can eat. Zucchini is a one of the healthiest vegetables, packed with nutrition, and with many health benefits. But, is zucchini healthy and should I grow it in my garden?
Zucchini, otherwise called 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, zucchini fruits are harvested when they are 4-8 inches. Darker fruits are usually higher in nutrients. But what are the health benefits of zucchini?
Here are 9 health benefits of zucchini, they are packed with many nutritional benefits. They are a great addition to a healthy diet and super easy to grow in any container or garden bed.
Incorporating zucchini in your diet can help improve digestion including reducing the incidence of constipation and other digestive issues. Zucchini is high in water. It also contains significant amounts of fiber, electrolytes and other nutrients that are necessary for a healthier digestive system. Regular consumption of zucchini may also improve overall health of ulcers, IBS and colon cancer.
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. Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients which help to rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation. A popular health benefit of zucchini!
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.
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, all leading to healthy living.
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 health by 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.
Try this Eggplant Dip Recipe
Because zucchini is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially folate, riboflavin and B6, it can help to boost energy production in the body. This reduces fatigue and improves moods. The body requires B-vitamins for protein and carbohydrate metabolism. The vitamins also aid in various brain functions including cognition; a great way to a healthy lifestyle.
Because zucchini is low in calories and high in water and fiber, it is a great food for those wishing to reduce their body weight. It is worth to note that excess body weight usually results from regular consumption of carbohydrate and sugary foods. By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the fiber and water content of your food. This means that you will feel full for longer and end up eating less. In the long term, you will lose some of your excess weight.
Zucchini contains high amounts of vitamin C and polyphenols, especially in the peels. Laboratory studies on rats by the Devi University found that the compounds in zucchini peels have positive effects on the thyroid and adrenal glands. Additionally, the compounds helped in the regulating insulin levels.
Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds including vitamins A and C, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. Large amounts of these compounds are found in zucchini skin. For this reason, you should eat the skin together with the flesh.
Eating zucchini regularly reduces oxidation and inflammation within the body. This boosts your immunity and protects against diseases associated with inflammation.
Zucchini contains zero fat, is high in water and fiber. Zucchini is packed with nutrition, and contains the following highly nutritious vitamins and minerals :
Zucchini grows best during the warmer months which is the reason it is also called summer squash. However, you can still grow it at other times provided it is shielded from extreme cold. If you get your system down, zucchini plants can become extremely productive with fruits.
If you would like to grow zucchini in your backyard, here is what you need to do:
Slice your zucchini in cross sections, like small steaks, then apply a thin coating of olive or avocado oil, then sprinkle your favorite seasoning, ideally home grown herbs and spices, then grill on the BBQ for 7 minutes on each side. Or, if you tolerate dairy well, then make a pizza out of your zucchini by adding a big slice of tomato on top, then a layer of your favorite cheese, then bake in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes.