Unlike cucumbers, zucchinis have a rough and dry exterior. Depending on one’s preference, it can be eaten raw or mixed with salads. Also, one can eat it as a snack.
Nutritionists say this type of a plant is a nutrient-dense food that one should include in their diet for it contains significant amounts of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like potassium and manganese.
Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association, Kigali says it contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which are essential for good health.
The first benefit of incorporating this plant in your diet, he says is improving digestion including reducing the incidence of constipation and other digestive issues.
He notes that this is because zucchini is high in water, and also contains significant amounts of fiber, electrolytes, and other nutrients that are necessary for a healthy digestive system.
Besides, he adds that regular consumption of zucchini can also help prevent ulcers and colon cancer.
Another reason why one should eat zucchini Musengimana says they are low in fat and sodium, but high in fiber and potassium.
“These properties help to maintain healthy blood circulation. Low sodium and high potassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure while fiber, such as the polysaccharide in zucchini, lowers cholesterol levels,” he says.
He further explains that this combination works synergistically to maintain good circulation, which is necessary for healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart.
Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Cabinet Clinic in Remera says consuming this type of a plant can prevent one from early aging.
He explains that aging results from the activity of toxins, free radicals, and inflammation that the body is exposed to over the years.
“These poisons and inflammation can be reduced by antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods, and zucchini is one of them,” he says.
Zucchini, he says, is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation.
He adds that because zucchini is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially folate, riboflavin, and B6, it can help to boost energy production in the body. This reduces fatigue and improves moods.
The body requires B-vitamins for protein and carbohydrate metabolism. These vitamins also aid in various brain functions including cognition.
Because zucchini is low in calories and high in water and fiber, Musengimana says it is a great food for those wishing to reduce their body weight.
“It is worth noting that excess body weight usually results from regular consumption of carbohydrate and sugary foods. By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the fiber and water content of your food,” he says.
This, he says means that one will feel full for longer and end up eating less hence losing weight.
Kamanzi says zucchini is also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, including vitamins A and C, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase.
He notes that large amounts of these compounds are found in zucchini skin and for this reason; one should eat the skin together with the flesh.
“Eating zucchini regularly reduces oxidation and inflammation within the body. This boosts your immunity and protects against diseases associated with inflammation,” he says.
Nutritionists also say eating this plant improves eye health as well.
Kamanzi says zucchini is a good source of health-protecting antioxidants and phytonutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin, and lutein.
He says zeaxanthin and lutein are especially useful in maintaining and improving eye health by fighting free radicals.
“This reduces the risk of developing age-related eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration,” he says.
Besides, he notes that high blood sugar levels and diabetes are problems that are worsened by a diet high in (unhealthy) carbohydrates and low in fiber.
Therefore, he says by including zucchini in your diet, one increases the intake of fiber. They can as well reduce their carbohydrate intake because one feels full for a long time.
These diet changes can help reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
“This can mean that the body no longer requires excessive amounts of insulin to process sugar. This can prevent one’s risk of developing diabetes,” he says.
Studies have also shown that including at least 30 grams of fiber in your daily diet lowers your risk of getting diabetes significantly.