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What Is Zucchini?
Also known as courgette, zucchini is a summer squash that is native to the Americas. It belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo, along with a few other types of squashes and pumpkins. It usually is dark or light green. The golden zucchini (yellow zucchini), another variety, is orange/deep yellow in color.
Types Of Zucchini
Zucchini comes in numerous varieties. A few of the popular ones are:
- Aristocrat, where the fruit has waxy skin and is medium green.
- Gold Rush, where the fruit is golden.
- Black Zucchini, where the skin is dark green, and the fruit has white flesh. This is the most common variety of zucchini.
- Zucchini Gadzukes, green fruit with distinct light green ridges.
And now we get to the real deal.
Benefits Of Zucchini
1. Zucchini Benefits For Weight Loss
As we have already discussed, zucchini is a low-starch fruit. Which means it is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. Which means it will fill you up and discourage overeating. That’s precisely what most people looking to lose weight want, right?
The fruit also has high water content that can keep you full for longer periods. It is one of those foods with a low glycemic index. Increased intake of fruits and vegetables and low-fat foods has been linked to healthy weight loss and weight maintenance. Another benefit of high-fiber foods is they require more chewing – because of which the individual takes more time to eat and is unable to gorge on a large number of calories in a short period.
2. Improves Heart Health
Ever heard of the DASH diet? Also called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, this diet is aimed at improving heart health by lowering hypertension. According to a report published by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, zucchini is a prominent part of the DASH diet.
Zucchini is low in cholesterol, sodium, and fat, and helps maintain a balance of carbohydrates – a requirement for optimum heart health.
Another reason zucchini works great for the heart is the presence of fiber. High intakes of fiber have been associated with significantly lower risks of developing stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
Zucchini is also rich in folate, and as per a Chinese study, folate intake is inversely associated with heart disease risk. The fact that it is rich in other nutrients like potassium and magnesium makes zucchini a superfood for the heart. Research has stated that deficiencies in the two nutrients can be directly linked to heart failure.
Another nutrient in zucchini that is worth your attention is riboflavin, which is a B-complex vitamin essential for energy production. In one study, children with cardiac disease were found to be shockingly deficient in riboflavin, emphasizing on the possible link between riboflavin and heart health. Another Chinese study has linked riboflavin with alleviated cardiac failure in diabetics.
Riboflavin deficiency is also linked to certain birth defects in pregnant women, especially issues with the outflow tracts in the infant’s heart.
3. Improves Eye Health
One doesn’t need to be reminded of the importance of vision. That said, zucchini seems to be more than food for your eyes. The fruit is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that were found to prevent age-related macular degeneration.
It is shocking to note that certain serious (and often irreversible) eye diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration have no warning signs. So, what’s the best approach? Including zucchini in your diet. Zucchini is also a good source of vitamin A that has shown to improve eye health. It is important for eye development and maintenance. As per a report published by Flaum Eye Institute of the University of Rochester Medical Center, a low-fat diet could be beneficial for the eyes – and zucchini can very well be a part of this diet.
The squash is also a wonderful source of beta-carotene that can improve eye health and offer protection against infections.