The high digestibility and low caloric intake of zucchini make this vegetable the ideal ally for low-calorie diets or for those who want to stay light. Discover the properties and benefits of zucchini.
Zucchini belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, the same family to which melons and squash belong. The zucchini plant is annual, with a creeping or climbing herbaceous stem, and can stand the cold, preferring a temperate climate.
The flowers of the plant are yellow-orange, while the fruits are usually green, with different shades. The presence of a light hair on the surface of the zucchini indicates the freshness of the product. The harvest period is in spring and summer. Today, however, they are on the market all year round because they come from greenhouses or are imported. However, it is always better to consume them in their ripening period both to fully enjoy their nutritional properties and because they have a lower price.
Zucchini have American origin but today they are grown all over the world. There are different varieties of courgettes: we remember, for example, long courgettes, round courgettes and yellow courgettes (Crookneck variety). They take their name from the place where they are grown such as the Bolognese courgette, the romanesca, the green dwarf of Milan, the tonda of Florence and the gray Genoese.
Zucchini: calories and nutritional values
Zucchini have few calories, 100 grams of this vegetable in fact only provide 16 kilocalories. The reason lies in the large amount of water which accounts for almost 95%.
This characteristic, together with the abundant presence of potassium, makes zucchini a highly diuretic vegetable. Furthermore, the low glycemic index makes zucchini a particularly suitable food for diabetics.
Courgettes are an important source of mineral salts and vitamins, while fibers are present, particularly in the skin, but not in very large quantities. Thanks to their lightness and digestibility, courgettes are particularly suitable for feeding babies; in fact, they are among the very first foods that are introduced during weaning. Let’s now take a look at the nutritional values of zucchini and the properties of the components most present.
Nutritional values per 100g of zucchini:
- Waterfall: 94.64 gr
- kcal: 16
- Proteins: 1.21 g
- Fat: 0.18 g
- Carbohydrates: 3.35 g
- of which sugars: 2.2 g
- Fibers: 1.1 g
- Soccer: 15 mg
- Magnesium: 17 mg
- Phosphorus: 38 mg
- Potassium: 262 mg
- C vitamin: 17 mg (28.3% RDA)
- Vitamin B1: 0.048 mg (3.4% RDA)
- Vitamin B9: 29 µg (14.5% RDA)
- Vitamin B6: 0.218 mg (10.9% RDA)
- Beta-carotene: 120 µg
- Vitamin E: 0.12 mg (1.2% RDA)
- Vitamin K: 3 µg (4.3% RDA)
- Glycemic index: 15
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Zucchini: nutritional properties
The most abundant mineral that we find in zucchini is certainly potassium, while the most present vitamins are vitamin C, which covers 28.3% of the recommended daily dose, and folates which instead contribute to the recommended daily dose for 14.5%. Let’s see together the characteristics of these substances in detail.
- Potassium: it has a vasodilating action so it helps to reduce blood pressure, counteracting the action of sodium, and also regulates the heartbeat. Potassium also regulates the passage of nutrients to cells, is important in the transmission of nerve impulses and regulates the pH of the blood. Its deficiency leads to nervous disorders, insomnia, constipation and alterations in the heartbeat;
- Vitamin C: it is also known as ascorbic acid and has a strong antioxidant action, therefore it protects against free radical damage, keeping the tissues young. It stimulates the immune system, protecting against colds and flu, it is essential for the formation of collagen (important for the structure of bones, skin and blood vessels), the activation of folic acid, the synthesis of neurotransmitters and promotes the absorption of iron in the intestine, therefore, it prevents anemia. Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches and increased susceptibility to infections;
- Folate (vitamin B9): they are provitamins which are converted in the intestine into folic acid or vitamin B9. Folic acid participates in the synthesis of hemoglobin and some amino acids, and is very important for growth, reproduction and proper functioning of the nervous system. Its intake is particularly essential in pregnancy, as its deficiency can lead to malformations of the neural tube (spina bifida).
Zucchini: health benefits
Let’s now see the properties of zucchini and the relative benefits that their consumption entails on our body.
✓ Benefits for the heart
Thanks to the abundance of water and potassium, courgettes are recommended in case of hypertension. They also help eliminate excess cholesterol.
✓ Diuretics and allies of the line
Zucchini, if consumed often, help reduce water retention and consequently cellulite. They are also suitable for those who follow a diet to lose weight or simply for those who want to keep fit, being low in calories, rich in water and high satiating power.
✓ They counteract inflammation of the urinary tract
The benefits of zucchini also affect the urinary tract. In fact, their diuretic action makes this vegetable suitable for fighting infections and inflammation of the urinary tract.
✓ They are highly digestible
Thanks to their consistency and composition, zucchini are very digestible and therefore can be safely eaten by children, the elderly and those suffering from digestive disorders.
✓ They are useful in case of constipation
Zucchini are laxative so they can be used in people suffering from constipation. They exert a very delicate action, without creating annoying intestinal irritation.
✓ They are indicated after episodes of dysentery
Zucchini, after episodes of dysentery due for example to intestinal viruses, help to replenish the loss of water and mineral salts.
✓ They are relaxing and help you sleep
Consumption of zucchini also seems to have a relaxing effect and consequently also facilitates sleep.
✓ Benefits for the skin
Zucchini is also useful when used on the skin. In particular, like cucumber, courgettes also help to counteract bags under the eyes and prevent expression lines. Thanks to the presence of vitamin C, they are also beneficial for skin health and protect against sun damage.
Zucchini: how many to eat
Zucchini belong to the category of vegetables and, as such, a standard portion is equivalent to about 200 grams, weighed raw. In more practical terms this equates to about 2 or 3 normal sized zucchini. We remind you that the guidelines recommend the intake of 2 or 3 portions of vegetables a day, therefore, when they are in season (from early spring to late summer) it is possible to consume a portion of these vegetables even every day, possibly combined with others. seasonal vegetables to vary the diet as much as possible and ensure the intake of all the essential nutrients for health.
Zucchini: how to use and consume them at their best
When buying courgettes, check that they are very fresh: they must be firm and the skin must not have bruises and must be of a bright color, while the flower must not be withered. Our advice is to choose small courgettes, as they are tastier and have fewer seeds.
Tender zucchini can be eaten raw, for example cut into julienne strips and eaten with oil, salt and lemon. Or they can be cooked in various ways: grilled, steamed, boiled or fried for pasta or risotto, in omelettes or flans. The cooking of zucchini is very fast, and it is always better not to prolong it to avoid losing too many nutrients. Finally, remember that the flowers are also consumed of the zucchini, which can be included in different recipes.
Zucchini: contraindications and potential negative effects
Zucchini generally do not present particular contraindications or side effects, except in the case of individual allergies or intolerances. However, it is advisable to always choose organic courgettes and consume them without peeling them, as many of the nutrients present in courgettes are contained in the peel.
Zucchini can be effectively used in cosmetics to counteract bags under the eyes: just apply the slices of zucchini for 15 minutes under the eyes to deflate them.