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Zucchini: Properties, Nutritional Values, Calories

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) are rich in potassium and valuable for the health of the urinary tract and intestines.

Zucchini, The Origin Of The Plant

Courgettes are the fruit of the Cucurbita pepo species and belong to the Cucurbitaceae family together with:

  • Cucumber
  • squash
  • melon
  • watermelon

Wild courgettes, from which the cultivated varieties we know today originated, can be traced back to the ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas: Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas. After the discovery of the Americas by Europeans in the 15th century, they were introduced to Europe and other parts of the world. As we know them today, the shape and color of courgettes result from selections and hybridizations that took place later. In particular, the dark green cylindrical zucchini, the most common variety, originated in Italy in the early 20th century.

Also Read: Fish: Characteristics, Nutritional Values, Freshness

The Peculiarity Of The Courgette

In addition to a good share of:

  • Potassium
  • magnesium
  • and phosphorus

Zucchini provides a fair amount of vitamin C, equal to almost 30% of the daily requirement. They also provide numerous bioactive compounds, including:

  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • β-carotene
  • and cucurbitacin

The term “cucurbitacin” refers to an entire family of compounds the plant produces to defend against herbivorous animals. These molecules are triterpenes that give a very bitter taste to the fruit and thus deter consumption; if taken in high doses, these triterpenes can cause a syndrome characterized by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, following the long process of variety selection, today, the cucurbitacin content present in the courgettes that we find on the market is reduced to a minimal and completely harmless presence.

Variety Of Zucchini

There are many varieties of zucchini, each with its distinguishing characteristics.

  • Zucca lunga d’Italia: As the name suggests, this variety of zucchini has an elongated, pumpkin-like shape. It has dark green skin and light ribs.
  • It is a highly versatile variety in the kitchen and lends itself to being savored in soups, sautéed, boiled, or prepared soft meatballs.
  • Cocuzzella di Napoli: this variety of courgette has a mottled green skin and an elongated, curved shape.
  • It is native to the Naples area and is highly appreciated for its delicate flavor and tenderness; this variety is often used to prepare the famous scapes zucchini, a typical dish of the Campania tradition.
  • Once fried, the courgettes are dipped while still hot in an emulsion of oil, white wine vinegar, mint, and garlic.
  • Dark green dwarf of Milan: it is a variety of zucchini characterized by a cylindrical and compact shape. It has dark green skin and a tender texture.
  • It is particularly appreciated for preparations in which a smaller and more compact courgette is required, such as preparing risotto or pasta and courgettes or enjoying raw in salads after having finely cut it into julienne strips.
  • Tonda di Toscana courgette: as the name suggests, this courgette variety has a round and regular shape. It has sage green skin and tender flesh.
  • It is often used to prepare stuffed or au gratin or grilled zucchini.
  • Roman courgette is a variety of courgettes with an elongated shape and light green skin. It is known for its tenderness and delicate flavor.
  • It is ideal for grilling, sautéing, or using in soups and stews.
  • Genoese courgette or trombetta courgette: this variety of courgette has an elongated shape and a rounded base that recalls the form of a trumpet, the skin is light green, and thanks to their crunchiness they are often used raw to prepare pesto or fresh appetizers.

Also Read: Anise: Properties, Use, Nutritional Values

Zucchini, Nutritional Values​​, And Calories

One hundred grams of courgettes provide just 12 kcal; they are practically fat-free, with a protein content of just over a gram. The available carbohydrates are about 1.4 grams, while the fibers arrive just above the gram.

  • Water 94.23 g
  • Carbohydrates 1.4 g
  • Sugars 1.3 g
  • Proteins 1.3 g
  • Fats 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol 0 g
  • Total fiber 1.2 g
  • Magnesium 17 mg
  • Zinc 1.14 mg
  • Copper 0.14 mg

Properties Of Courgettes

They have a very low-calorie content, which makes them particularly suitable for low-calorie diets. They are low in sodium, refreshing, and easily digestible. Their characteristics make them particularly suitable even in early childhood; courgettes are among the very first foods to be introduced during the weaning of newborns. Among the micronutrients, they contain, above all, potassium; they also have:

  • Folic acid
  • vitamin E
  • C vitamin

Zucchini are diuretics and help to counteract urinary tract problems; they are valid allies for those suffering from intestinal inflammation; they are instrumental in case of constipation. Furthermore, courgettes are recognized for relaxing and calming properties. They are also indicated if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. There are no limitations regarding the frequency of consumption of this precious vegetable, except in case of allergy.

Zucchini, Moisturizing Vegetable

Zucchini is almost 95% water, making it a very hydrating vegetable. In addition, courgettes also contain a significant amount of electrolytes, such as potassium, which plays a vital role in body fluid balance and remineralizing action. To get the most hydrating benefit from zucchini, eating them fresh and preferably raw is best, as cooking can reduce the water content. You can include them in salads, snacks, pureed crudités, or as part of fresh and light dishes.

How To Choose Zucchini

Opt for medium-sized or small zucchinis, which are more tender and flavorful than huge ones. More giant zucchinis may have firmer flesh and well-developed seeds. I prefer tight and compact courgettes with shiny and intact skin. A courgette with the flower still attached is a sign of a very fresh fruit characterized by an excellent consistency and a pleasant and aromatic flavor.

Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini can be eaten both cooked and raw; they are the undisputed protagonists of the first courses, side dishes, or second courses of the summer season. Let’s see together some recipes that have them as protagonists: Zucchini can be steamed, eaten boiled, or sautéed in a pan.

A zucchini-based pesto can be prepared to season hot or cold pasta and a tasty zucchini cream. You can prepare stuffed courgettes in summer, even in their vegetarian version. They can also be used to create delicious veggie meatballs. On hot days, vegetable smoothies with zucchini are also excellent for rehydrating and exploiting the benefits of this vegetable.

Zucchini Parmesan Without Frying

With zucchini, it is a prepared and light version of parmigiana.

Prepare Is A Possible Action:

  • Cut the courgettes along the long side with the help of a mandolin to obtain skinny slices. Arrange the courgettes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and intersperse each layer with tomato sauce, a few tufts of mozzarella, and a sprinkling of parmesan.
  • Make at least three or four layers and sprinkle the last layer with a generous sprinkling of parmesan, a few basil leaves, and a drizzle of oil.
  • Bake in a preheated static oven at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

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