Zucchini is a delicately flavored summer squash, known for its versatility. It can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Zucchini is equally delicious when baked, steamed, sauteed, or eaten raw. This summer squash has a soft edible skin and creamy yet crisp flesh. It is related to both cucumber and melon. The entire zucchini can be eaten: seeds, skin, and flesh. Even flowers of zucchini are edible!
Packed with antioxidants!
Zucchini, along with other varieties of summer squash, are full of health-boosting antioxidants. Researchers have found that zucchini is the main source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene for many people. It is also one of the primary sources for lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Zucchini is full of vitamin C and manganese. All of these antioxidants protect the cells from damage related to oxidative stress. The concentration of antioxidants found in zucchini is especially good for the health of your eyes, protecting them from developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
To get the full benefit of the antioxidant power in zucchini, you should eat it steamed or raw, fresh or frozen. Researchers have found that the antioxidants of zucchini remain undamaged after steaming or freezing. The seeds and skin of zucchini are just as good for you as the flesh, so do not throw them away. Make sure that your zucchini is free of pesticides by buying organic.
Zucchini is an excellent source of pectin polysaccharides. These compounds help the body regulate blood sugar levels and metabolize insulin properly. This prevents the development of type-2 diabetes. Zucchini also contains B-complex vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids to help the body metabolize sugar correctly and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
The antioxidants in zucchini lower levels of inflammation throughout the body. This protects the cardiovascular system and digestive tract from disease. Inflammation is also a contributor to type-2 diabetes, so the anti-inflammatory antioxidants in zucchini offer another layer of protection from developing this dangerous condition.
Choosing a delicious zucchini
We often think of zucchini as having dark green skin, but it can also be yellow or dark green with stripes or spots. The skin should be firm and shiny, without mold, cuts, or damage. Zucchini should feel supple, not hard. Hard zucchini is over-ripe and will have an unpleasant texture. Because zucchini has a high-water content, it should feel heavy for its size.
Handle your zucchini carefully as any bruising will make it spoil faster.
Store zucchini in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Wash the skin with a vegetable brush just before eating or adding to your recipe.
If you find yourself with an over-abundance of zucchini, cut it into disks and steam it for two-three minutes. Cool it completely and then freeze it in an airtight container or zip top freezer bag.
Gently clean your zucchini with a vegetable brush under running water before eating or adding to your favorite dishes. Zucchini can be grated and added to raw salads and slaws or folded into a quick bread, brownie, or muffin batter. It is also delicious when steamed or sauteed. Bake stuffed zucchini or add slices of zucchini to vegetable casseroles and lasagnas. It is also delicious in sauces or eaten raw with dips or dressing.