Aside from its taste, wide availability, and culinary versatility, zucchini offers numerous potential health benefits.
“Zucchini has many health benefits as a result of its rich antioxidant and micronutrient content,” explains registered dietitian Kristin Gillespie, who is based in Virginia Beach. “These benefits include reduced blood sugar levels, improved heart health, improved vision, enhanced weight loss, improved bone health, reduced inflammation, and improved digestion.”
Read on to learn more about this popular summer squash, including its nutrition facts, how to cook it, and other considerations to discuss with a doctor or dietitian.
- Calories: 21
- Protein: 1.5 g
- Fat: 0.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
- Fiber: 1.2 g
- Sugars: 3 g
- Calcium: 20 milligrams (mg)
- Iron: 0.5 mg
- Potassium: 324 mg
- Sodium: 10 mg
Zucchini is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, as well as a good source of potassium and magnesium, says Natalie Rizzo, RDN, founder of plant-based nutrition blog Greenletes. “Vitamin C is known for its immune system benefits, and it’s also an antioxidant that helps prevent inflammation in the body. Potassium and magnesium are electrolytes that contribute to heart health, blood pressure regulation, and hydration.”
Common Questions & Answers
Potential Health Benefits of Zucchini
Zucchini is a low-calorie food that can help you lose weight as part of an overall healthy diet. However, the benefits of this squash go beyond calorie control.
“Because of its rich antioxidant content, zucchini can also protect against a variety of chronic illnesses, including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and age-related cognitive decline,” explains Gillespie.
Below is a more in-depth look at what the current research says about the potential health benefits of eating zucchini.
May Help With Weight Management
May Promote a Healthy Gut
May Reduce Cancer Risk
May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Can Help With Blood Sugar Control
May Protect Your Vision
How to Select and Store Zucchini
How to Eat Zucchini
“Zucchini can be incorporated into the diet in a variety of ways,” says Gillespie. “It can be sliced and added to salads or sandwiches, spiralized into noodles, or eaten plain (raw or grilled) with a dressing or dip. It can also be incorporated into zucchini bread.”
Aside from zucchini bread, Gillespie’s favorite way to eat zucchini is oven-roasted. “I slice it and toss with olive oil and a variety of spices and herbs to add some extra flavor,” she adds.
If you decide to use spiralized zucchini as a substitute for pasta, Rizzo recommends sautéing it for a maximum of 1 to 2 minutes to avoid a mushy texture. “Some of my other ways to enjoy zucchini are in tacos or using it as vessel for stuffing,” she adds. “For tacos, just chop and sauté it with a little olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes and then add to other veggies in your taco. To stuff it, scoop out the flesh and fill it with a yummy mixture, then bake in the oven.”
Recipes With Zucchini
Zucchini’s mild flavor and texture make it a versatile and nutritious addition to a variety of dishes. Consider the following recipes as you incorporate more zucchini into your diet:
- Change up your usual eggs and toast with a Zucchini Breakfast Skillet.
- Whip up a batch of Healthy Maple Blueberry Zucchini Muffins and freeze the extras to have for a quick snack or breakfast on the go.
- Make a Balsamic Zucchini Sandwich for a healthy lunch.
- Bring a Greek Zucchini Salad to your next picnic or cookout.
- Put a twist on your usual pizza night with Zucchini Pizza Boats.
- Use leftover zucchini for dessert with this versatile Zucchini Bread recipe.
Additionally, Rizzo offers two recipes of her own: Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Boats and Zucchini and Lentil Tacos With Radish Salsa.
And if you want further recipe inspiration, check out these 10 RDN-approved zucchini recipes for everything from Greek zucchini pie to flourless zucchini brownies.
Potential Side Effects of Eating Zucchini
“Zucchini is generally healthy and without significant risks, although it can cause gastrointestinal issues in those with irritable bowel syndrome,” says Gillespie. “Additionally, eating zucchini raw can cause bloating in certain individuals, because of the fiber content.”
Overall, like many other fruits and vegetables, zucchini is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that packs an antioxidant punch and may help reduce your risk of certain chronic illnesses.
“I would recommend incorporating zucchini into the diet of pretty much anyone,” says Gillespie. “It is part of a general healthy diet and can offer a host of health benefits to most individuals.”
Another perk is the versatility of zucchini — as outlined in our cooking tips and recipe recommendations, you can add this squash to a variety of dishes any time of the day.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
- Fun Facts About Zucchini. Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate. March 27, 2015.
- Zucchini History: Origins of Zucchini. Vegetable Facts.
- Seasonal Food Guide: Zucchini. Seasonal Food Guide.
- Zucchini Squash, Zucchini. U.S. Department of Agriculture. October 28, 2021.
- How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 3, 2022.
- Fiber: The Carb That Helps You Manage Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. February 4, 2022.
- High-Fiber Foods. MedlinePlus. August 20, 2020.
- Dandawate P, Subramaniam D, Panovich P, et al. Cucurbitacin B and I Inhibits Colon Cancer Growth by Targeting the Notch Signaling Pathway. Scientific Reports. January 2020.
- El-Sahar EGE, Sopeah HRA, Almujaydil MS. Study the Effect of Different Levels of Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.) on the Biological Indicators for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Rats Fed High-Fat Diets. Food and Nutrition Sciences. February 2020.
- Non-Starchy Vegetables. American Diabetes Association.
- Vegetables and Fruits. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
- Keeping Your Gut in Check: Healthy Options to Stay on Track. NIH News in Health. May 2017.
- Bitterness in Cucumbers and Zucchini. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. July 13, 2021.
- Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). Stanford Medicine (PDF).