(Natural News) Zucchini is a versatile, nutrient-rich vegetable. It’s good for your digestion and heart health and it can be incorporated into a healthy diet in many ways: It can be used as an alternative to noodles, served in salads or even turned into delicious desserts.
The nutritional benefits of zucchini
Zucchinis or courgettes are popular among keto dieters because it can be turned into “noodles” for keto-friendly, low-carb pasta dishes.
A one-cup serving (180 g) of cooked, unsalted zucchini contains the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A (40 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake [RDI])
- Manganese (16 percent of the RDI)
- Vitamin C (14 percent of the RDI)
- Potassium (13 percent of the RDI)
- Magnesium (10 percent of the RDI)
- Vitamin K (9 percent of the RDI)
- Copper (8 percent of the RDI)
Zucchini is a natural source of vitamin A that can help boost your immune system and eye health. Note that raw zucchini offers a similar nutrition profile as cooked zucchini.
However, cooked zucchini contains less vitamin A since it is often reduced by cooking.
It’s rich in beneficial antioxidants
The skin and flesh of zucchini are full of antioxidants that promote cellular integrity and reduce inflammation. The antioxidants in zucchini can help protect you from chronic diseases.
Zucchini skin is full of antioxidants like vitamins A and C, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, so when cooking with this superfood, leave the skin on.
It can help boost your heart health
Zucchini contains antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and potassium that boost your heart health.
Antioxidants like carotenoids are found to benefit heart health. Following a diet high in fiber is also linked to healthy cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and less inflammation, all of which help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.
Potassium from zucchini can help lower stroke and heart attack risk by relaxing your blood vessels, which then promotes better blood flow. (Related: Eat more zucchini: 10 health benefits offered by this nutrient-rich vegetable.)
It can improve your digestion
Following a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables can help boost your digestive health.
Zucchini, a water-rich vegetable, can help soften stool. One cup of cooked zucchini contains two grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber that helps draw water into the gut and create bulk to help prevent constipation.
Soluble fiber also boosts digestive health and nutrient absorption by feeding beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Healthy zucchini recipes
There are many ways to cook zucchini:
- Bake it into bread, cakes or other desserts.
- Slice or spiral it to make keto-friendly pasta.
- Add it to salads.
- Add it to stir-fries.
- Make vegetable stews like ratatouille.
- Stuff it with fresh ingredients and bake it.
Parmesan baked zucchini chips
This recipe takes 20 minutes to prep.
Ingredients for 2-4 servings:
- 2 zucchinis (medium-sized)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Garlic salt (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425 F, with the oven rack in the center position.
- Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch coins.
- Place the sliced zucchini onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet with little space in between.
- Lightly season the zucchini with black pepper and garlic salt.
- Use a teaspoon to spread a thin layer of parmesan cheese on each slice.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.
Keto-friendly zucchini enchiladas
This keto-friendly snack takes 40 minutes to prepare.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 3 cups roasted chicken, shredded
- 1 1/3 cups red enchilada sauce, divided
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 1 cup shredded Monterey jack
- 4 large zucchinis, sliced lengthwise in half
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- Coarse sea salt
- Fresh cilantro
- Sour cream
- Set the oven to 350 F.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes and stir until soft.
- Add the chili powder, cumin and garlic to the cooked onion. Add salt to taste.
- Cook the ingredients for one minute, then add the chicken and one cup of enchilada sauce to the skillet. Stir until the chicken is coated.
- Use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini into thin slices. Place three slices of zucchini next to each other until they’re slightly overlapping then top with a spoonful of the cooked chicken mixture.
- Roll up the zucchini and chicken, then transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining zucchini and chicken mixture.
- Pour the leftover cup of enchilada sauce over the zucchini enchiladas, then top with the shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack.
- Bake the zucchini enchiladas for 20 minutes.
- Top with sour cream and cilantro before serving.
Cook tasty and nutritious dishes with zucchini, an amazing superfood that can boost your digestion and heart health.