8 Health Benefits of Zucchini
Last updated on March 26, 2011
As a part of the summer squash family, zucchini not only offers delightful taste and texture to many dishes, but also carries with it many health beneﬁts. Here are eight health benefits of zucchini and why you should include it in your diet.
One cup of zucchini has 36 calories and 10% of the RDA of dietary ﬁber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar and curbs overeating.
The dietary ﬁber in zucchini helps lower cholesterol by attaching itself to bile acids that the liver makes from cholesterol for digesting fat. Because ﬁber binds so well with bile acid, thus crowding its ability to immediately digest fat, the liver is charged with producing more bile acid.
The liver then draws upon even more cholesterol to produce bile acid, consequently lowering the overall cholesterol level in the body. Furthermore, the high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A prevent cholesterol from oxidizing in the body’s blood vessels, thus hampering the onset of atherosclerosis.
Because dietary ﬁber promotes healthy and regular bowel movements, the high amounts of ﬁber in zucchini also help prevent carcinogenic toxins from settling in the colon. Moreover, the vitamins C and A, as well as folate, found in zucchini act as powerful antioxidants that ﬁght oxidative stress that can lead to many different types of cancer.
Studies show that the phytonutrients in zucchini aid in reducing the symptoms of benign
prostatic hypertrophy (BOH), a condition in which the prostate gland enlarges and leads
to complications with urination and sexual functions in men.
Vitamins C and A not only serve the body as powerful antioxidants, but also as effective
anti-inﬂammatory agents. Along with the copper found in zucchini, these vitamins deter the
development of many hyper-inﬂammatory disorders, including asthma, osteoarthritis,
and rheumatoid arthritis.
Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention
A one cup serving of zucchini contains over 10% of the RDA of magnesium, a mineral
proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Zucchini also provides folate, a
vitamin needed to break down the dangerous amino acid homocysteine, which – if
levels in the body shoot up – can contribute to heart attack and stroke.
Lower Blood Pressure
Along with magnesium, the potassium found in zucchini helps lower blood pressure. If
unchecked, hypertension, or high blood pressure, can lead to arteriosclerosis (blood
vessel damage), heart attack, stoke, and many other serious medical conditions. Both
the potassium and magnesium in zucchini, however, can help alleviate the stress on the
body’s circulatory system.
High in Manganese
A trace mineral and essential nutrient, manganese provides many health beneﬁts and contributes to a slew of normal physiological functions. One cup of zucchini contains 19% of the RDA of manganese, which helps the body metabolize protein and carbohydrates, participates in the production of sex hormones, and catalyzes the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol.
The manganese in zucchini also increases the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the enzyme responsible for protecting mitochondria against oxidative stress. Finally, manganese is essential for the production of proline, and amino acid that allows collagen to form, thus allowing for healthy skin and proper wound-healing.