Zucchini, the delicate flavor, soft shell and creamy white flesh of summer squash is a perfect addition to any summer meal.
A zucchini (courgette) is an elongated squash. It has dark green skin and a white crisp flesh and a core of soft edible seeds. Zucchini can be boiled, baked or fried, use raw in salads or grated and baked in cakes. Zucchini is extremely versatile, cut into sticks, ribbons or circles and added to stir-fry.
Less than thirty years ago, the zucchini, formerly often referred to as green Italian squash, was hardly recognized in the United States even though this appears to be the home base. Today, it is not only widely recognized, but a particular favorite of home gardeners. It does not withstand its prolific growing nature, its popularity is probably due to in large part to its versatility as a vegetable as well as in breads and desserts.
Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo, is a member of the cucumber and melon family. Inhabitants of Central and South America have been eating zucchini for several thousand years, but the zucchini we know today is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy.
The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash. The term squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning “green thing eaten green.” Christopher Columbus originally brought the seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa.
The French snubbed zucchini for a long time until chefs learned to choose small fruits which are less bland and watery. The French term for zucchini is courgette, which is often used interchangeably for yellow squash as well.
Zucchini is one of the very low calorie vegetables; provide only 17 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.
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, vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as folate, found in the zucchini act as powerful antioxidants that ﬁght oxidative stress that can lead to many different types of cancer.
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, if levels in the body shoot up, can contribute to heart attack and stroke.
Last, Zucchini is effective for weight management due to its healthy combination of high fiber and moisture content and a low calorie content which make it a low energy food. Low energy foods are beneficial for weight management as they control your appetite by filling you up with water and fiber.
Thus, you can have larger servings of zucchini and still keep your caloric intake low. The high dietary fiber on the other hand enables you to shed extra pounds as it helps to burn more calories than you consume. Since zucchini is a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin A and C and dietary fiber, you can effectively lose weight by consuming it without depriving your body of vital nutrients.