Zucchini Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

by OneGoodFoodBlog
Zucchini Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Zucchini is a summer squash. Summer squashes are members of the gourd family, cousins of winter squash. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Zucchini, yellow crookneck, and pattypan (scallop) squash are common varieties of summer squash. Zucchini is also called marrow (vegetable marrow or Italian marrow) and courgette, depending on where in the world you live.

Zucchini is easy to find in most markets and provides micronutrients, such as vitamins C and B6. This versatile vegetable (that is technically a fruit) is low in calories and makes a great addition to most healthy diets.

Zucchini Nutrition Facts

One cup raw, chopped zucchini (124g) provides 21 calories, 1.5g of protein, 3.9g of carbohydrates, and 0.4g of fat. Zucchini is a great source of vitamins B6 and C. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 21
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 9.9mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.9g
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Sugars: 3.1g
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Vitamin C: 22.2mg


According to USDA data, if you eat one cup of raw zucchini, you will consume only about 21 calories and approximately 4 grams of carbohydrates. Most of the carbohydrate is sugar, but you’ll benefit from 1 gram of fiber.

The estimated glycemic load of a single serving of zucchini is 2, making it a low-glycemic food. Glycemic load takes serving size into account when estimating a food’s impact on your blood sugar levels.


There is less than half a gram of fat in a one-cup serving of zucchini.


A serving of zucchini provides a small amount of protein, about 1.5 grams.

Vitamins and Minerals

Zucchini is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is a good source of vitamin B6. You’ll also get smaller amounts of vitamin A, folate, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Minerals in zucchini include manganese, potassium, and small amounts of magnesium and phosphorus.

Health Benefits

The nutrients in zucchini may provide certain health benefits.

Protects Cells From Free Radicals

Zucchini provides about 24% of your daily needs for vitamin C in a one-cup serving. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is important in boosting immunity, repairing cells, and slowing down the aging process.

As an antioxidant, vitamin C is believed to prevent oxidative stress caused by exposure to free radicals in our environment (such as cigarette smoke) or free radicals made by the body. Experts recommend consuming antioxidants in foods such as fruits and vegetables, rather than taking an antioxidant supplement.

May Help Prevent Some Cancers

Some research has suggested that diets that include more fruits and vegetables are associated with a decreased risk of certain cancers, most notably lung, breast, colon or rectum, stomach, oral cavity, larynx or pharynx, and esophagus.

Some studies suggest that vitamin C may be responsible for this benefit due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But more evidence is needed to fully understand this potential benefit.

Delays Skin Aging

The vitamin C in zucchini is also responsible for the production of collagen, the main protein in your skin. Vitamin C may also assist in antioxidant protection and protect against age-related skin decline and UV-induced photodamage.

Authors of a research review published in a 2017 issue of Nutrients noted that healthy skin is positively associated with higher fruit and vegetable intake in a number of studies. Although they note that the active component in the fruit and vegetables responsible for the observed benefit can’t be identified, vitamin C availability may be a factor.

May Reduce Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms

The vitamin B6 in zucchini may help reduce symptoms of PMS, according to some studies. But research is limited. Also, most studies showing a benefit have been poor quality and more evidence is needed to establish that vitamin B6 can provide this benefit.

May Reduce Morning Sickness

Preliminary studies also show that vitamin B6 may also help to reduce morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy. However, study results have been mixed.6 The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) does suggest that vitamin B6 is a safe, over-the-counter treatment that may be tried for morning sickness, but the organization does not discuss food sources.


People with oral allergy syndrome (OAS) may experience symptoms when consuming zucchini or yellow squash, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. OAS is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen (such as birch, ragweed, or grass pollens), raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts. The organization says that cooking zucchini may help you prevent symptoms.

If you suspect an allergy to zucchini or if you experience itchiness in the mouth or throat area after eating it, seek the care of a qualified medical professional.

Adverse Effects

Zucchini contains cucurbitacins, which are bitter compounds that are sometimes added to certain types of insecticides. However, under normal circumstances, cucurbitacins are produced at low enough concentrations that they are not perceived as being bitter by humans.

In some cases, factors such as high heat can cause cucurbitacin-containing fruits to have a bitter taste. Occasional cases of stomach cramps and diarrhea have occurred in people ingesting bitter zucchini. There are no FDA regulations or guidelines specific to the presence of cucurbitacins in food.


There are different varieties of zucchini. They range in size from very small (about the size of a hot dog) to exceptionally large. Some varieties, such as eight ball zucchini, are even round. Almost all zucchini are green, but some are green and white. Sometimes people refer to yellow squash as yellow zucchini, but technically it is a different kind of summer squash.

Most zucchini has a similar taste, but they are often used in different ways. The long thin varieties can be sliced and added to soups, salads, or a veggie tray. Round or thicker varieties are great for stuffing and roasting.

When It’s Best

In the United States, summer squash is available all year long in most grocery stores. But the best zucchini is available in the summer.

When purchasing zucchini or any summer squash, look for shiny skin that is free of blemishes, bruises, nicks, and soft spots. The skin should be firm to the touch, especially the stem, and the squash should feel heavy for its size.

Storage and Food Safety

Keep zucchini whole and unwashed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Before slicing, make sure you wash the skin thoroughly with a vegetable brush and cold water.

To freeze summer squash, slice it, cube it, or grate it, spread it on a parchment-lined baking sheet to freeze, and then pack in a freezer bag. Frozen vegetables usually last about one year in the freezer. Note that frozen squash tends to be very mushy and its texture typically works best for making soups or baked goods.

It is perfectly safe to eat raw zucchini and to eat the skin when you consume it. In fact, eating the skin maximizes the antioxidant content. The seeds are edible, too.

How to Prepare

Dip raw zucchini in your favorite dipping sauce or chop up and add to a salad. You can also add this tasty vegetable to any meal. It has a thin skin and soft, moist flesh that lends itself well to steaming, grilling, roasting, baking, and sauteing. Grated zucchini is used to make zucchini bread.

Play with the shape of your squash—dice it, julienne it, cut it into cubes, or get fancy and make pasta. Summer squash is a fantastic low-carb pasta option.

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