Biological Name: Cucurbita pepo
Names in other languages: CalabacÃn (Spanish), Abobrinha (Portugese), Courgette (French), Pipino (Filipino), Cuketa (Czech), Tori/Turai (Hindi), Peerkan kai (Tamil), Oru pachakkari (Malayalam), Beera Kaaya (Telugu), Turiya, Ghisoda (Gujarati), Jhinge, Jhinga (Bengali), Dodke, Shira?e (Marathi), Janhhi (Oriya), Turai (Urdu), Tori (Punjabi)
Eat them raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, sautéed or baked in a cake, or in hot and barely cooked salads, zucchinis fit every meal and cuisine perfectly. And above all, if you are searching for a vegetable that will help in your weight loss regimen, zucchini should top your list. Botanically a fruit, but treated as a vegetable, zucchini is more often used in cooked dishes compared to the raw counterparts. Due to its neutral taste, zucchini is very useful in preparing recipes with meat, fish, cheese, grain and pulses. Native to central and South America, zucchini, otherwise known as courgette, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family of melons, cucumbers and pumpkins. With a shape similar to a ridged cucumber, zucchini is characterized by a smooth, thin skin and tender flesh that is creamy white, featuring countless seeds. Being a summer squash, zucchini is available in brilliant colors of dark green, yellow and light green, and can be found all round the year. The flowers, too, are edible and are often used in French and Italian cooking. Not just that it offers a delightful taste and texture to numerous delicacies, zucchini carries many health benefits without any side effects, the most significant of them being improving your overall health, boosting energy and giving you feelings of healthy living. Consider the following facts about zucchini and reconsider your views of using it in your meals.
Zucchinis are descendants of wild squash plants that were cultivated around 10,000 years ago in Central America, in the present Mexico and Guatemala. Historians and archaeologists indicate that zucchinis were initially cultivated for their seeds rather than the sweet-tasting flesh that is admired currently. As time passed by, zucchini was spread throughout the Americas with different varieties being developed, thereby generating more sweeter-tasting flesh. But zucchini was brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus from the New World, just like other Native American foods. Furthermore, the introduction of zucchini to the rest of the world can be credited to the Portuguese and Spanish explorers. The modern day zucchini is the result of a variety of summer squash developed by Italy. In fact, the word zucchini is an Italian term derived from ‘zucchino’ meaning ‘a small squash’. As zucchini spread across Europe, it came to be known by different names. The French call it courgette while the British named it vegetable marrow. Eventually, the vegetable continued to evolve as it was introduced to other parts of the world. Today, the major production centers of zucchini include Argentina, Turkey, China, Japan, Romania, Italy and Egypt.
- Incredibly low in calories, zucchini makes a great way of filling your stomach without worrying about the calories being carried along with it. With just a couple of calories, you can include zucchini in your diet plan.
- Regular consumption of cheesy, doughy foods with high sodium levels or other processed foods can leave your body yearning for water. With a high water concentration, vegetables like zucchini contribute to hydration, thereby fulfilling the body’s water requirement.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which is required by the body to prevent health conditions, like scurvy and other illnesses, including heart conditions and certain types of cancers. Zucchini is a great source of vitamin C that helps in overcoming the deficiency of this vitamin.
- Zucchini contains dietary fiber which lowers cholesterol by attaching itself to bile acids which are produced by the liver from the cholesterol. Since the fiber binds so well to the bile acid to instantly digest fat, the liver is induced to generate more bile acid.
- The high levels of vitamins A and C present in zucchini keep the cholesterol from oxidizing in the body’s blood vessels, thereby delaying the onset of atherosclerosis.
- Dietary fiber is known for promoting healthy and regular bowel movements, which help in preventing carcinogen toxins from settling in the colon. Zucchini has dietary fiber present in high amounts which avoids the risk of different kinds of cancers.
- Studies indicate that zucchini contains phytonutrients which assist in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BOH), a condition where the prostate gland enlarges, resulting in complications with urination and sexual functions in men.
- With the presence of magnesium in considerate amounts, zucchini helps in lowering the risk of heart attack and strokes to a great extent. Besides, it also contains folate which is necessary for breaking down the amino acid homocysteine, which when increased, can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- Zucchini is ideal for people suffering from asthma and other respiratory allergies as it increases one’s immunity due to the high vitamin C content. Furthermore, it also helps in controlling the symptoms of any autoimmune disorders which can lead to internal inflammation of organs.
Total Weight: 227 g
|Calories From Carbohydrate||34|
|Calories From Fat||1.9|
|Calories From Protein||5.3|
|Total Carbohydrates||9.4 g|
|Dietary Fiber||3 g|
|Fats & Fatty Acids|
|Total Fat||227 mg|
|Saturated Fat||47 mg|
|Monounsaturated Fat||17 mg|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||96 mg|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||60 mg|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||36 mg|
|Vitamin A||1258 IU|
|Vitamin C||9.2 mg|
|Vitamin E||272 mcg|
|Vitamin K||9.5 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||169 mcg|
|Pantothenic Acid||503 mcg|
Zucchini has about 16 calories per 100 gm of weight.
- Because the prime season of zucchini is from May to August, it falls under the category of summer squash, which also includes crookneck squash, straightneck squash and patty pan squash.
- When selecting zucchini, always look for ones that have moist stem ends and slightly prickly yet shiny skin. These are the indicators of fresh zucchini.
- Ideally, good zucchini should be between 6 and 8 inches in length and one or two inches in diameter.
- They should be slightly soft, feel solid and heavy on the size. Avoid selecting zucchini with hard, tough skin as it indicates that the vegetable is overripe and hence, will have thick, stringy flesh and hard seeds.
- Carefully observe the skin of the zucchini. It should be free from cuts, bruises, wrinkles, soft spots or any blemishes. Besides, at least one inch of the stem end should be attached.
- Zucchini can vary in color from dark to light green. However, the darker the zucchini, the more nutrients it will have.
- The flesh of zucchini is weak and tender; hence, it should be handled very carefully.
- Never wash the zucchini before storing it. Simply prick a few holes in a plastic bag to allow penetration of air and place the zucchini in it. Store the zucchini in the coldest part of the refrigerator, preferably the crisper, where it will last for up to a week.
- Zucchini also keeps well when frozen. Slice the summer squash and blanch it in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer them immediately into ice cold water to cool quickly. Place the cooled slices on clean towels to drain and keep them in freezer containers or freezer bags.
- Alternatively, you can shred the zucchini and place it directly into the freezer bag. This way, the zucchini can be stored for up to six to eight months in the freezer.