Zucchini is a variety of summer squash with dark- to light-green mottled skin. Zucchini and other types of squash have been used by humans for over 5,000 years. Though raw zucchini is mostly water, it does offer some essential vitamins and minerals. Most of the vitamins and minerals in zucchini are found in the skin.
Zucchini is mostly made up of water and so is very low in calories. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, which provides a full nutrient profile, one medium raw zucchini has 33 calories, 2.37 grams of protein, 6.1 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber. Fiber promotes good digestive health and helps to lower cholesterol. The Institute of Medicine recommends than women consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day, and men consume at least 38 grams.
Zucchini and other dark green vegetables are a good source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for growth and development and for proper immune system function. One medium zucchini has 392 international units of vitamin A. The daily amount of vitamin A recommended by the Institute of Medicine is 3,000 IU for men and 2,333 IU for women. Zucchini is also a source of vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin that functions as an antioxidant.
Zucchini is a source of potassium, a mineral essential for the function of all organs, tissues and cells in your body. One medium zucchini provides 512 mg of potassium. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Zucchini also provides phosphorus, which is an important structural component of bones and cell membranes.
Selection and Storage
When purchasing zucchini, choose zucchini that are firm and heavy for their size. Fresh zucchini should have bright, glossy skin free of any bruises or nicks. Fresh zucchini should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Raw zucchini can be grated or chopped and added to salads. You can also slice zucchini into strips and serve with hummus or dip. Zucchini can be steamed or grilled or grated and mixed into zucchini bread.