Zucchini: The Latest Super Food

By Brenda Neugent;

A member of the summer squash family - and notoriously one of the most prolific garden producers - the zucchini is low in calories and packed with fiber, which should earn the versatile veggie a place on the latest list of super foods.

While it doesn't hold the same places of honor as the pomegranate, the acai berry, the blueberry or the sweet potato, the zucchini has as many of the health benefits. It's just a little more humble!

The zucchini has just 36 calories a cup, and can be cooked in a variety of different ways, from steamed and sauteed to stuffed, grilled and baked, allowing you to add it to almost any meal from breakfast stratas and omelets to pastas at dinner.

Fiber king

One medium zucchini has 10 percent of your day's fiber, making it an excellent choice to keep your digestive health strong while reducing your risk of cancer and keeping your cholesterol low.

Make sure to include the skin to get the most out of the zucchini's fiber benefits. Most have thin, delicate skin that is tender whether it is served cooked or raw.

All about the vitamins

And don't forget the vitamins and minerals found in this truly super food.

A one-cup serving of zucchini offers more than 15 percent of your day's Vitamin C needs. An excellent antioxidant, Vitamin C is great for skin, nails and hair, and helps fight the effects of free radicals.

It also contains almost 10 percent of your recommended Vitamin A daily allowance. A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin A targets the skin and eyes, and helps the body better fight off infection.

That same cup offers a good dose of Vitamin K, about 8 percent of your daily requirements, which is necessary to help blood clot effectively, along with a few B vitamins, essential for metabolism and energy.

Hats off to the minerals

The zucchini has more potassium than a banana, which might make the classic yellow snack standby obsolete.

One cup of zucchini contains 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium, which helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke while building strong bones.

That same cup also contains 20 percent of your daily allowance of manganese, vital for building bones and connective tissue, boosting blood clotting factors and maintaining brain and nerve function.

In addition, zucchini offers a touch of calcium, a must for building strong bones and helping to prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

Your question: How often do you eat Zucchini? (post your comments below)

About the Author: Brenda Neugent invented her first zucchini recipe after an endless supply showed up in her first garden, and she's been experimenting ever since. A longtime newspaper editor and writer, she is now venturing into the world of freelance. This is her first book.


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