Americans eat more zucchini than any other kind of summer squash, according to the book "Wellness Foods A to Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-Conscious Food Lovers." Unlike winter squash, zucchini is harvested before it matures on the vine -- while its skin is still thin, tender and edible.
For about 20 calories, 1 cup of raw chopped zucchini with skin delivers 37 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and just over 1 gram of dietary fiber. It also supplies about 10 percent each of the daily values for vitamin B-6 and potassium, as well as slightly lower amounts of vitamin K and riboflavin.
Whole Vs. Peeled
Zucchini is about 95 percent water by weight. Because most of this water is found in the vegetable's flesh, its skin is a more concentrated source of nutrients. Not only is a peeled zucchini is lower in vitamin C and potassium, but it's also virtually devoid of fiber and vitamin K. The skin itself is a rich source of antioxidant carotenoids, including lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.
Raw shredded zucchini is crisp and refreshing, whether tossed into a green salad or added to a sandwich. The vegetable cooks quickly in soups, stews and tomato-based sauces and is also ideal for roasting. Serving zucchini with olive oil or another healthy fat helps your body better absorb the antioxidants in its skin.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Squash, Summer, Zucchini, Includes Skin, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Squash, Summer, Zucchini, Includes Skin, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Carotenoids
- Wellness Foods A to Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-Conscious Food Lovers; Sheldon Margen, M.D.