Zucchini, also known by many as courgette, is a summer squash that’s an ideal healthy addition to lots of different dishes – from pastas and stews to salads and dips.
But, what about eating raw zucchini? Is this a healthy addition to a diet or should it be avoided?
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the health benefits associated with consuming raw zucchini, as well as a number of the potential risks to keep in mind.
We’ll also look to answer a couple of the frequently asked questions.
Despite the fact that zucchini is widely used as a vegetable, the green summer squash is technically classified as a fruit.
Like the vast majority of other fruits, zucchini is packed full of vitamins and minerals that can benefit your health in a variety of different ways.
Listed below are five of the most important health benefits associated with eating raw zucchini.
1) Promotes Healthy Digestion
With as many as three grams of fiber in a typical, large-sized zucchini, the fruit is excellent for promoting healthy digestion.
Zucchini contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which can significantly reduce the risk of constipation.
Soluble fiber can also promote the health of your gut microbiome. This is important because the gut microbiome plays an essential role in regulating your metabolism and keeping your immune system in good nick.
2) Full Of Antioxidants, Vitamins, And Minerals
Zucchini is packed full of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that the body needs to function.
For example, the polyphenols found in zucchini can help to protect your body’s cells from damage.
The high potassium content in zucchini is another notable benefit considering that potassium is vital for pretty much everything, including heart and kidney function, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction.
What’s more, zucchini is also a great source of vitamin C, which not only plays an important role in the creation of collagen but also helps to prevent or delay the development of some diseases and cancers due to its powerful antioxidant properties.
3) Promotes Healthy Vision
Zucchini contains beta-carotene which is a form of vitamin A and an essential nutrient that promotes healthy vision, as well as reproduction and the immune system.
What’s more, zucchini also provides other important antioxidants in the form of lutein and zeaxanthin.
These are carotenoids that occur in the retina and wider visual system, with some research showing that they can reduce the risk of age-related eye disorders.
4) Good For Weight Loss
If you’re looking for foods to add to your diet that assist weight loss, there are few options better than zucchini.
This is because zucchini is high in water and fiber, but low in calories.
In other words, consuming zucchini will help you feel fuller for longer periods of time, while still allowing you to manage your caloric intake – a winning combination for weight loss.
5) Can Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
The final health benefit we’ll take a closer look at, and by certainly no means the least is the effect that raw zucchini can have on blood sugar levels.
As mentioned earlier, zucchini is a great source of fiber, and diets high in fiber from fruit and vegetables can help to control blood sugar levels.
The vast majority of the time, raw zucchini is completely safe to eat with no side effects whatsoever. However, there are a couple of potential health risks to watch out for if you really want to be safe.
For example, sometimes you might come across an overly bitter zucchini.
This usually indicates that the green squash contains a high level of cucurbitacins – a class of compounds found in some foods to be toxic.
While cucurbitacin poisoning is dangerous and something you certainly want to avoid at all costs, the chances of buying a toxic zucchini from your local grocery store are very low.
Suppliers tend to selectively breed crops to avoid this, but it’s definitely worth being careful if you’re consuming wild zucchini.
Another potential health risk of eating raw zucchini is bloating. This is mainly caused by nutrients such as cellulose and soluble fiber. The latter can produce gas as a side effect when fermented by your healthy gut bacteria.
Finally, as is the case with any raw fruit, there’s always the risk of contamination.
Therefore, in order to minimize the risk of food poisoning from bacteria or parasites, make sure you wash zucchini thoroughly with cold water before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can You Tell If Zucchini Has Gone Bad?
Most zucchini that’s freshly bought at a grocery store can last for up to two weeks in the fridge.
However, as is the case with any fruit or vegetable, there are a few telling signs to keep an eye out for that can indicate a zucchini is past its best.
For example, if there’s mold on the surface or it has an unpleasant aroma, this is a sign that it’s time to throw your zucchini away.
Furthermore, if it’s turned soft and started to leak, this also indicates that the green squash is past its prime.
What’s The Best Way To Cook Zucchini?
Zucchini is incredibly versatile and can be cooked in several different ways. Two of the most popular cooking methods are roasting and sauteing.
To roast your zucchini, preheat the oven to around 200℃ and place some sliced zucchini (drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper) onto a lined baking tray.
Bake the zucchini for roughly 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until the green squash has turned golden brown.
When it comes to sauteing zucchini, the most effective way is to slice the fruit in quarter-inch rounds.
Once you’ve done this, heat a large pan over medium heat with some olive oil, before adding the sliced zucchini and sauteing for three to four minutes on each side until the edges turn crisp and golden brown.