by Sharon Quercioli
As a part of the summer squash family, zucchini not only offers delightful taste and texture to many dishes, but also features a variety of health beneﬁts. Here are eight reasons why you should include zucchini in your diet:
One cup of zucchini has 36 calories and 10% of the RDA of dietary ﬁber, which aids in digestion, maintains low blood sugar, prevents constipation and curbs overeating.
The dietary ﬁber in zucchini helps lower cholesterol by attaching itself to bile acids that the liver makes from cholesterol for digesting fat. Because ﬁber binds so well with bile acid, thus crowding its ability to immediately digest fat, the liver is charged with producing more bile acid.
The liver then draws upon even more cholesterol to produce bile acid, consequently lowering the overall cholesterol level in the body. Furthermore, the high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A prevent cholesterol from oxidizing in the body’s blood vessels, thus hampering the onset of atherosclerosis.
Anti-Inﬂammatory vitamins C and A not only serve the body as powerful antioxidants, but also as effective anti-inﬂammatory agents. Along with the copper found in zucchini, these vitamins deter the development of many hyper-inﬂammatory disorders, including asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Lutein and vitamin C in this vegetable keep your eyes sharp and healthy. Vitamin A present in zucchini prevents tooth decay, while the overall nutritional factor aids in reducing signs of aging.
Because dietary ﬁber promotes healthy and regular bowel movements, the high amounts of ﬁber in zucchini also help prevent carcinogenic toxins from settling in the colon. Moreover, the vitamins C and A, as well as folate, found in zucchini act as powerful antioxidants that ﬁght oxidative stress that can lead to many different types of cancer.
Lower Blood Pressure
Along with magnesium, the potassium found in zucchini helps lower blood pressure. If unchecked, hypertension or high blood pressure can lead to arteriosclerosis (blood vessel damage), heart attack, stroke and many other serious medical conditions. Both the potassium and magnesium in zucchini, however, can help alleviate the stress on the body’s circulatory system. Zucchini is rich in magnesium and phosphorus. Hence, it adds strength to bones and aids in preventing brittleness of bones due to old age.
Studies show that the phytonutrients in zucchini aid in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BOH), a condition in which the prostate gland enlarges and leads to complications with urination and sexual function in men.
Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention
A one-cup serving of zucchini contains over 10% of the RDA of magnesium, a mineral proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Zucchini also provides folate, a vitamin needed to break down the dangerous amino acid homocysteine, which—if levels in the body shoot up—can contribute to heart attack and stroke.
High in Manganese
A trace mineral and essential nutrient, manganese provides many health beneﬁts and contributes to a slew of normal physiological functions. One cup of zucchini contains 19% of the RDA of manganese, which helps the body metabolize protein and carbohydrates, participates in the production of sex hormones and catalyzes the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol.
The manganese in zucchini also increases the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the enzyme responsible for protecting mitochondria against oxidative stress. Finally, manganese is essential for the production of proline, an amino acid that allows collagen to form, thus allowing for healthy skin and proper wound-healing.
One thing one must keep in mind while buying zucchini is the color. Dark green zucchini is rich in nutrients compared to lighter ones. Do not peel it off while eating as it contains an oxidant known as beta-carotene.
I love to grill vegetables and zucchini is one of the many that you should include in your diet. Hummmm… Which recipe of my mom’s should I include?… Zucchini bread, zucchini quiche or her zucchini sauce over pasta. Looks like the quiche wins!
- 3 cups sliced unpeeled zucchini
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 cup bisquick
- ½ – ¾ cup shredded Romano, parmesan or cheddar cheese
- 4 eggs
- ½ c vegetable oil
- ½ tsp parsley
- ½ tsp marjoram
- ¼ tsp salt & pepper
Mix all ingredients together, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes