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Zucchini (Courgette): Uses, Benefits, Side effects and More!

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction:

What talks like a cucumber and walks like a cucumber might not always be a cucumber. It might be a Zucchini! You might have come across this vegetable resembling cucumber usually used in pasta and pizzas. You might have wondered what this exotic vegetable is or maybe you already know that it is Zucchini. Zucchini is also known as summer squash or courgette and is well known around the globe. The Zucchini can grow up to a meter (100cm) in length, but they are harvested at a much shorter length (15-25cms), almost half or even less than that of its potential length. Its scientific name is Cucurbita pepo and it belongs to the squash and pumpkin family. Its colour ranges from a light to dark green. Few hybrid varieties of Zucchini can be deep yellow or orange, it is also known as the golden Zucchini.1 

benefits of zucchini

Although the prime season for Zucchini is May to August, Zucchini is now available around the year.   It is a thin, cylindrical vegetable which narrows towards the stem. The outer skin of the winter squash is thicker when compared to the thin, soft skin with edible seeds of the summer squash. The flesh is pale with a sweet, delicate flavour. The Zucchini grows within 2-7 days of flowering and is to be quickly harvested because past that, they may develop a bitter taste.1  

The other newer varieties of Zucchini are the golden Zucchini and globe or round Zucchini. Zucchini is often confused with the marrow squash, which is also known as the vegetable marrow (commonly grown in Britain and Ireland). However, the marrow squash is larger and rounder with white stripes.1  

Nutritional Value of Zucchini: 

The nutrients present in Zucchini are: 

Nutrient Percentage content 
Water 95.6 
Carbohydrate 2.69 
Protein 1.14 
Fats 0.36 
Sugars 1.17 
Fibre 
Calcium 0.018 
Potassium 0.264 

Table 1: percentage of nutrients present in Zucchini2 

  • Other minerals present in Zucchini:
    • Magnesium  
    • Phosphorous  
    • Iron  
    • Sodium  
    • Zinc 
    • Manganese 
    • Selenium2 
  • Vitamins present in Zucchini:
    • Thiamine (vitamin B1)  
    • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)  
    • Niacin (vitamin B3)  
    • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)  
    • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)  
    • Folate    
    • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)2  

Also Read: Drumstick: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Yellow and green zucchini both exhibit high nutrient values and medicinal properties. The bio-components present in zucchini can exhibit anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal activities.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Zucchini: 

Zucchini, owing to the presence of the various nutrients and bioactive compounds, might have the following properties: 

  • Might have antimicrobial properties  
  • Might have antiviral properties  
  • May have a potent analgesic (pain reducing) effect  
  • Might be an antioxidant  
  • Might have anti-carcinogenic potential (activity against cancer cells)  
  • Might have anti-inflammatory property (may help alleviate inflammation)  
  • Might have activity against colds and aches  
  • Might have an anti-proliferative effect (may help curb proliferation of damaged cells)  
  • Might be pro-apoptotic (may induce/help in programmed death of damaged cells by the immune system)3  

Also Read: Sweet Corn: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Based on my observations, zucchini can combat dehydration. It contains 94% water and thus, it is a great source of water. You can consume it in various forms, such as roasting, grilling or even raw.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Zucchini for Overall Health: 

The following may be some of the potential uses of Zucchini for human health. 

1. Potential uses of Zucchini for wounds:  

Pumpkin seed oil is the oil obtained from the seeds of Zucchini. It is shown to have wound healing potential in rats. This might be due to the presence of high amounts of fatty acids. Although pumpkin seed oil might be promising in healing wounds in animals, their use in humans is yet to be confirmed.1 

2. Potential use of Zucchini for urinary tract infections (UTIs)  

Zucchini might help relieve the lower UTIs symptoms due to enlargement of prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia). In a review done by Damiano, it was found that Zucchini resulted in potential improvement of urine flow and quality of life.  1 

3. Potential use of Zucchini for stress urinary incontinence  

The seed extract of Zucchini along with 2 other components (Equisetum arvense and Linum usitatissimum) was tested for its potential to help with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in women. In a small study of 86 women it was found that their introduction of Zucchini seed extract might be the reason for decreased visits to the bathroom and leaks (urinary incontinence). However, few women reported adverse effects such as headache, flatulence and gastric discomfort. Therefore, more research is required to prove these claims.1 

4. Potential use of Zucchini for stomach worm infestation  

Studies to show the effect of Zucchini against parasitic worms known as nematodes infesting both humans and livestock. A study to see the effectiveness  of the various extracts of Zucchini (hot water extract, cold water extract and ethanol extract) on two such parasites (C. elegans and H. bakeri) showed that all these extracts contain bioactive compounds like cucurbitane, amino acids, fatty acids, etc. which might act against C.elegans and H.bakeri.1 

5. Potential use of Zucchini for cancer  

The potential of Zucchini to prevent DNA damage and its anti-genotoxicity is extensively researched in humans. It might have a potential to curb the growth of cancer cells which might be due to its possible anti-proliferative and antioxidant activities.  However, it is not promising a cure or prevention for cancer by any means. Moreover, a serious condition such as cancer must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor for sound medical advice related to the subject.3 

6. Other potential uses of Zucchini  

Zucchini might have the potential to be useful for the following as well: 

  • Weight management  
  • Lipid profile regulation 
  • Diabetes 
  • Heart diseases 
  • Eye diseases1 

Though there are studies that show the potential use of Zucchini in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of more research to establish the true extent of benefits of Zucchini on human health.   

Also Read: Snake Gourd: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Zucchini (Courgette)? 

Zucchini can be a versatile vegetable and consumed in the following ways: 

  • It can be eaten raw 
  • Sliced or shredded in cold salads 
  • Lightly cooked in hot salads (as in Thai or Vietnamese cooking) 
  • Cooked in breads 
  • Steamed  
  • Boiled 
  • Grilled 
  • Baked 
  • Barbecued 
  • Fried 
  • Incorporated in souffles  
  • Zucchini flowers are also eaten and they are known to be a delicacy when stuffed and deep fried as ”tempura”.1 

Zucchini can be incorporated in various cooking techniques and recipes as per the creativity of the person preparing it. Although Zucchini is closely related to cucumber, however, unlike cucumber, Zucchini is usually cooked.1 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking Zucchini for its potential health benefits. Do not discontinue or replace any ongoing treatment of modern medicine prescribed by your doctor, with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.  

Also Read: Is Cucumber a Fruit? Debunking the Popular Myth 

Side Effects of Zucchini: 

More research to know the side effects of Zucchini on human health is needed as there is inadequate data for the same. Therefore, Zucchini should be eaten cautiously and in normal quantities. It is better to consult a doctor regarding the potential use of Zucchini and its possible side effects on your health.   

Precautions to Take with Zucchini:  

Zucchini is usually consumed as a vegetable in normal sized food proportions. However, due to insufficient research, its safe use in special cases like pregnancy, breast feeding as well as children and elderly is still doubted. Therefore, you should confirm its safety before use. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Zucchini might have unknown and unreported interactions with certain drugs. Therefore, it is advised that you consult your doctor before using it. Especially, if you are undergoing any treatment and are on medications.  

Also Read: Elephant Yam: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are the benefits of Zucchini?  

Zucchini (Courgette) might have the potential to help with lower UTIs due to enlargement of prostate, urinary incontinence, weight management, eye diseases, heart diseases, cancer, etc. However, more research is required to prove these possible Zucchini health benefits. 1,3 

What is the nutritional value of Zucchini?  

Water forms the major percentage of Zucchini. It also contains many nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins (B1, B2, B3, C, etc.) and minerals (iron, potassium, calcium, etc.).  It also contains various other bioactive components (cucurbitane).1,2 

What are the Zucchini benefits for skin?  

There are no valid reports or studies that state benefits of Zucchini for skin. There is more research required on this subject.  

Are there any Zucchini benefits for weight loss?  

Zucchini might have a potential to help in weight management. However, the exact mechanism is not known. There is need for more research to prove these claims. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor.1 

What are the Zucchini benefits for hair?  

There are no valid scientific researches or studies that show the benefit of Zucchini for hair. Therefore, there is need for more research. 

Also read: Honeynut Squash: A Deep Dive Into Its Nutritional Benefits And Culinary Uses

References: 

1. Ben-nun L. CHaracteristics of Zucchini [Internet]. Ben-nun L, editor. Israel: B. N. Publication House; 2019. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Liubov-Ben-Noun-nun/publication/335542665_CHARACTERISTICS_OF_ZUCCHINI/links/5d6cccc7a6fdcc547d721bac/CHARACTERISTICS-OF-ZUCCHINI.pdf 

2. Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt [Internet].     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. 2018 [cited 19 July 2022]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169292/nutrients 

3. Martínez-Valdivieso D, Font R, Fernández-Bedmar Z, Merinas-Amo T, Gómez P, Alonso-Moraga Á, et al. Role of Zucchini and Its Distinctive Components in the Modulation of Degenerative Processes: Genotoxicity, Anti-Genotoxicity, Cytotoxicity and Apoptotic Effects. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 Jul 14;9(7):755. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28708122 

Also Read: Radicchio Benefits: Exploring Its Health-Boosting Effects Based on Research

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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