For this month’s exploration of the prolific vegetable that is zucchini, I decided to look under the hood and see what the old zucchini “nutrition facts” lowdown had in store for us.
Zucchini is actually a summer squash, along with its yellow counterpart, both of which have roughly the the same nutrional profile. Its origins are in the Americas, dating back to 7,000 to 5,500 BCE Mexico. With a mild flavor that balances well in so many dishes, from savory to sweet, turns out it’s a great addition to a healthy diet as it’s both filling and nutritious.
According to NutritionData.com, zucchini is a five star choice for weight loss, owing to the sense of fullness it gives while also containing a high nutritient content.
Zucchini is low in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and is a great source of dietary fiber.
Nutrients found in zucchini include the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Health Benefits of Zucchini
As I delved into my “deep zucchini project” I learned that zucchini actually has benefits toward the treatment of certain ailments, not to mention a few home remedies.
Cancer and Heart Disease
According to World’s Healthiest Foods nutrition info, nutrients and vitamins found in zucchini and squash can be beneficial toward the prevention of cancer and heart disease:
Although not as potent as root vegetables like burdock, garlic or onion, squashes have been found to have anti-cancer type effects… Summer squash’s magnesium has been shown to be helpful for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Together with the potassium in summer squash, magnesium is also helpful for reducing high blood pressure.
From Grandmother’s Home Remedies, compiled by Dr. Myles Bader:
If you’re going to serve a hard-to-digest meal, this side dish does double duty. Steam some zucchini and sprinkle with raw, grated almonds. It’s tasty and will aid in digestion.
Fighting Summer Heat
Zucchini, harvested in late summer, is (go figure) also a great food for when you’re feeling over-heated. According to Paul Pritchford of Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition (aff), summer squashes have cooling, refreshing properties. His prescription: “to counteract summer heat, eat summer squash or zucchini lightly cooked or raw.”
Well now I’ve heard about folks eating frozen watermelon soaked in bourbon to cool off this summer, while going without air conditioning to save energy, but I’ve never heard of plain summer squash to beat the heat. Do you think you could add bourbon to it?
Magnesium Content of Zucchini Promotes A Healthy Immune System
If you or your family experiences health concerns in the areas of asthma, allergies or learning disorders a great health area to focus on is nutrition and the immune system. According to John Taylor, Ph.D.:
Some of the most exciting new ADHD research provides startling insights about how the immune system is involved in creating ADHD symptoms and associated physical accompaniments… A healthy, well-functioning immune system generally prevents colds, flu, frequent and numerous allergies, and a myriad of other problems for which children with ADHD seem to be at risk. — Helping Your ADD Child: Hundreds of Practical Solutions for Parents and Teachers of ADD Children and Teens (aff)
Magnesium has an important role in supporting our immune system, and it’s one of the vitamins that I’ve really wanted to incorporate more fully into our diet. Magnesium aids in the digestion and use of essential fatty acids, which are crucial to the production of antibodies.
In her Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants (aff), Mary Bove, Naturopathic Doctor, states that “diets which are high in preserved refined foods and artificial substances tend to be deficient in magnesium.”
As we do have immune-related complications in our family, like eczema and allergies, I use the list of vital nutrients from Bove’s Encyclopedia of Natural Healing as an aid in menu planning. The book also includes nutritional suggestions and recipes for herbal home remedies for a wide range of ailments, common colds and illnesses.
Northwestern University’s posted nutritional information backs up Dr. Bove’s statements:
Magnesium has roles in energy metabolism, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse transmission, and bone mineralization. It is a required cofactor for an estimated 300 enzymes. Among the reactions catalyzed by these enzymes are fatty acid synthesis and protein synthesis. [emphasis mine]
According to NutritionData.com, one cup of cooked zucchini has a nutrition content of
- 10% of the RDA of magnesium,
- 40% of Vitamin A and
- 14% of Vitamin C.
All three are among our top immune-boosting nutrients that we try to emphasize in our diet. Other good sources of magnesium are pumpkin seeds, almonds, soy nuts, cashews and tofu.
And don’t forget: the darker the zucchini, the greater the nutrients and minerals, so look for those deep green colors.
As I always say, eat your colors!