Zucchini: A Nutritional Powerhouse with Health Benefits | Full Guide

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

If you are looking for a way to lose weight healthily, it may be time for you to learn about the health benefits of zucchini. It can play a big role in weight loss while boosting the nutrient content of your diet. Moreover, it possibly helps enhance vision and prevent all the diseases that occur as a result of vitamin C deficiency like scurvy, and easy bruising.

Zucchini may help to treat asthma – one of its many benefits – and has a high content of vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. It contains a significant amount of potassium, folate, and vitamin A, all of which are important for good health. When eaten regularly, it can effectively lower your homocysteine levels.

In addition to being so effective and having numerous health benefits, let’s have a look at some of the major benefits that make this squash so popular.

What Is Zucchini?

Also called courgette, zucchini is a squash that has its origin in America and is available in colors including yellow, light green, and green. The shape of this small summer squash resembles that of a ridged cucumber and features numerous seeds inside. Some cultivators also produce zucchini in rounded or bottle shapes.

Today, the largest producers of this squash include Japan, China, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and Argentina. It is grown year-round and can be eaten raw, sliced or cooked. It can also be shredded in a cold or hot salad.
Even though zucchini is a fruit, it is commonly cooked as a vegetable (and considered as one in the culinary world) as it is best when eaten in cooked dishes. It is picked when it’s below 8 inches (20cm) in length and the seeds are soft and young. A fully developed zucchini is usually three feet long and contains excess fiber.

Young zucchini has a subtle taste, soft covering, and buttery white flesh. It is available in its best form during May and July. Almost all the parts of this squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds, and even the skin. [1]

Nutrition Facts

Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]94.79
Energy 17
Energy [kJ]70
Protein [g]1.21
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.32
Ash [g]0.58
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]3.11
Fiber, total dietary [g]1
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]2.5
Sucrose [g]0.05
Glucose (dextrose) [g]1.07
Fructose [g]1.38
Calcium, Ca [mg]16
Iron, Fe [mg]0.37
Magnesium, Mg [mg]18
Phosphorus, P [mg]38
Potassium, K [mg]261
Sodium, Na [mg]8
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.32
Copper, Cu [mg]0.05
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.18
Selenium, Se [µg]0.2
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]17.9
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.09
Niacin [mg]0.45
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.2
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.16
Folate, total [µg]24
Folate, food [µg]24
Folate, DFE [µg]24
Choline, total [mg]9.5
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]10
Carotene, beta [µg]120
Vitamin A, IU [IU]200
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]2125
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.12
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]4.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.08
10:0 [g]0.02
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0
15:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.05
17:0 [g]0
18:0 [g]0.01
20:0 [g]0
22:0 [g]0
24:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
14:1 [g]0
16:1 [g]0
16:1 c [g]0
18:1 [g]0.01
18:1 c [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.09
18:2 [g]0.03
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]0.03
18:3 [g]0.06
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.06
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.03
Isoleucine [g]0.04
Leucine [g]0.07
Lysine [g]0.07
Methionine [g]0.02
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.04
Tyrosine [g]0.03
Valine [g]0.05
Arginine [g]0.05
Histidine [g]0.03
Alanine [g]0.06
Aspartic acid [g]0.15
Glutamic acid [g]0.13
Glycine [g]0.05
Proline [g]0.04
Serine [g]0.05
Sources include : USDA [2]

Zucchini Nutrition

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, zucchini is rich in minerals and vitamins that include potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and riboflavin. It also contains vitamin B6, A, E, and K, sodium, zinc, and iron. It has a high water content – 94 percent –  and it is also a great source of energy. [3]

Carbs and Calories in Zucchini

Zucchini is very low in carbs and calories and according to the USDA, a 100 g serving of raw zucchini contains only 3.1 g of carbohydrates and 17 calories. [4]

Health Benefits of Zucchini

The health benefits of zucchini include the following.

Rich Source of Antioxidants

Zucchini, a low-calorie and low-carb summer squash, is a nutritional powerhouse, primarily due to its high antioxidant content. [5]

Zucchini is particularly rich in antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Antioxidants play a vital role in protecting the body from the harmful effects of free radicals, which can lead to chronic diseases. These antioxidants are essential for vision, skin health, and immunity.

Moreover, zucchini’s carotenoids offer protection against UV rays, helping to naturally shield the skin from sunburn. [6]

Supports Digestive Well-Being

Zucchini is a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut, producing short-chain fatty acids that support gut health and reduce inflammation. This is particularly beneficial for those with digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel syndrome. Insoluble fiber helps food move through the gut more easily by absorbing water and creating bulk, which helps to soften stools and make them easier to pass. The water content in zucchini not only hydrates but also facilitates digestion, aiding nutrient absorption and preventing concerns such as constipation. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Zucchini is a low-carb, high-fiber vegetable that may help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It is also rich in vitamin B6, which may help protect against diabetes.

  • Low carb content: This makes it a great alternative to high-carb foods, such as pasta and bread. For people with type 2 diabetes, reducing carb intake can help to improve blood sugar control and reduce the need for medication. [12] [13]
  • High fiber content: Fiber helps to slow down the digestion of food, which can help to prevent blood sugar spikes after meals. Fiber promotes insulin sensitivity, which is the body’s ability to use insulin effectively to regulate blood sugar levels. Additionally, a high-fiber diet can help to prevent prediabetes and improve overall well-being. [14] [15] [16]
  • Vitamin B6 content: Vitamin B6 is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, and it also plays a role in insulin production. Recent studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes often have lower levels of vitamin B6 in their blood. Getting enough vitamin B6 from your diet may help to improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications from diabetes. [17]
  • Low glycemic index: Zucchini has a low glycemic index, which means that it does not cause blood sugar levels to spike rapidly after eating. This is important for people with type 2 diabetes, as blood sugar spikes can lead to long-term health complications. [18] [19]

Other Potential Benefits of Zucchini for People with Type 2 Diabetes

  • Zucchini peel extract may help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels as per animal study [20]
  • Zucchini is a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect cells from damage
  • Zucchini is low in calories and fat, making it a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight

May Aid with Weight Loss

Zucchini is low in calories and carbs. This makes zucchini a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. [21]

Second, it is high in fiber. Fiber is important for weight loss because it helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied after eating. Zucchini is a good source of soluble fiber, which as per multiple studies, has been shown to help reduce appetite and promote weight loss. [22] [23] [24]

Third, it is a good source of water. Water is essential for weight loss because it helps to boost metabolism and promote satiety.  [25]

Finally, zucchini is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. This makes it an easy way to add more vegetables to your diet, which is important for weight loss. Zucchini can be grilled, roasted, steamed, or sautéed. It can also be used in salads, soups, and stews.

If you are looking for a healthy and easy way to lose weight, zucchini is a great option.

May Improve Eye Health

Zucchini is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are important for eye health. As per a study, lutein has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blue light-absorptive properties. Another study suggests that using carotenoid phytochemicals like zeaxanthin as adjunctive therapy for AMD may be justified, as they may provide neuroprotection and have beneficial effects on treatment strategies at any stage of AMD, even advanced AMD.

In addition, diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin may also lower your likelihood of developing cataracts, a clouding of the lens which can lead to poor eyesight. [26] [27] [28]

Zucchini also contains Vitamin C and beta-carotene. Vitamin C helps to maintain the health of the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye, and is also necessary for the production of collagen, a protein that helps to support the structure of the eye. While beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, which is also essential for eye health. Vitamin A helps to protect the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, and is necessary for good night vision. [29] [30] [31]

May Protect the Cardiovascular System

According to a study cited in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, intake of fruits and vegetables – zucchini is one that was inversely related to LDL cholesterol. Zucchini may offer support for heart health due to it’s: [32]

  • Fiber’s Contribution: Zucchini’s high fiber content, including pectin, plays a vital role in reducing cholesterol levels. It prevents the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream, lowering the risk of plaque formation in veins and arteries. [33] [34]
  • Potassium Power: Zucchini is rich in potassium, which helps dilate blood vessels, leading to healthier blood pressure. [35]
    • Additional Nutrients: Zucchini also contains magnesium and vitamin K, essential for maintaining a healthy heartbeat rhythm and blood clotting.

    May Help You Maintain Optimal Health

    It’s already been mentioned that zucchini is an outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C; however, it is also a great source of dietary fiber that will keep your body in ideal shape for the long run. It also contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus which help in boosting health. Summer squash also has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and protein.

    Whole and sliced dark green zucchini with zucchini squash blossoms on a wooden table

    Zucchini is available all year-round in grocery stores. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    May Promote Men’s Health

    According to an animal study, it may treat an ailment in men called BPH or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. BPH is a condition where the prostate gland becomes enlarged in an odd shape and size, which then can cause trouble with both sexual and urinary function. Zucchini is said to be extremely useful in decreasing BPH symptoms, especially in combination with other nutrients that contain phytonutrients. [36]

    How to buy and store Zucchini


    Take a look at the following points when you are buying this squash.

    • Select a zucchini that is no longer than six inches and is 1-2 inches in diameter.
    • Ensure the one you are buying is sleek, smooth, and firm and has bright-colored skin.
    • Zucchini with cuts and blemishes is not fresh so do not buy it.


    • It is always advisable to store zucchini in perforated plastic bags inside of a refrigerator drawer.
    • Try not to keep this fruit stored for more than 3 days, since it can get damaged in overly cold temperatures.
    • If the squash is damaged, you will notice hollow pits in the surface, which means that you should discard it.

    How to Cook Zucchini

    There are many interesting ways to enjoy zucchini. Let’s find out how.

    • Salads: You can dice the squash fruit and add it to your salad bowls for a refreshing boost.
    • Sandwiches: Slice some zucchini and add it to your favorite sandwiches to get an amazing crunch.
    • Sautéed Zucchini: Cut up zucchini into cubes and sauté it with olive oil or butter. Add some minced garlic, salt, and pepper to get a rich flavor.
    • Baked Zucchini: Arrange a single layer of sliced up zucchini on a baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on it. Now crank up the oven to 350° and bake for about 40 minutes till the zucchini is golden brown in color.

    As you know, eating enough fruits and vegetables is important, so if you include this fruit in your diet, you are keeping your body healthy and well-hydrated in the long run. It is undoubtedly one of the most healthy food choices which are easy to consume in delicious forms.

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    About the Author

    Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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