Zucchini belongs to the class of vegetables commonly called summer squash. Other varieties of summer squash include yellow straightneck, yellow crookneck and white scallop. Zucchini grows native in the United States and its mild flavor makes it perfect to eat either raw or cooked or to add to sweet or savory recipes. Zucchini is a nutrient-rich food and is therefore good for you as it offers vitamins and minerals with very few calories.
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The skin color of zucchini may range from nearly black to dark green, pale green, gray or even yellow. Choose zucchini with darker colored skin, and keep the skin on when eating, to get the most nutrients from this vegetable. The skin should be slightly shiny and free from any cuts or bruises.
Whole zucchini will stay fresh when stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. To keep the zucchini the freshest, wait to wash it until ready to use it. Once cut, whether raw or cooked already, eat the zucchini within two days for freshest taste.
Because zucchini contains a high water content, it provides very few calories. A half cup of sliced or diced zucchini counts as a half-cup serving toward the 2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables recommended by U.S. Department of Agriculture. That half cup of zucchini only provides 10 calories.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting the intake of fat to 25 to 35 percent of your total calories for the day. Because zucchini contains no fat or cholesterol, adding it to your diet helps to reach nutrient goals without contributing to fat calories.
The body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein necessary to build bone, skin, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. It also promotes healing and helps maintain healthy teeth and bones. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, meaning it protects the cells in the body from the harmful effects of free radicals -- negatively charged atoms created when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Adults should consume 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C per day and the half-cup serving of zucchini provides 15 percent of that total intake.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Zucchini contains a useful amount of folate, also known as vitamin B9, which helps the body produce and maintain new cells. Zucchini also provides the body with vitamin A needed for healthy teeth and eyes; potassium, which is a mineral crucial to heart function; and iron needed to produce the protein hemoglobin found in red blood cells.