This common summer squash is a versatile meal item that can go from breakfast to dinner in just a few slices. Not only is it a fantastic and easy-to-grow food, zucchini is also quite the healthy addition to any diet.

A cup of zucchini contains just 19 calories. It contains no appreciable amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. This is ideal if you are trying to lower cholesterol, lose weight, or just eat well. Zucchini is a very good source of fiber, which helps you to feel full and can aid in digestive health. It is also a good source of protein, along with vitamins A, B-6, and C, plus folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

The Healthy Eater’s Go-To Ingredient

Some of the nutrients in zucchini can be essential to human function. Here are some of the most prominent ones:

  • Folate: Pregnant women are advised to consume folate because it supports normal development of the fetus.
  • Potassium: This is a useful electrolyte that can lower your blood pressure, effectively combating the increase in pressure associated with sodium.
  • Vitamin C: The vitamin C content in zucchini gives your body about 30 percent of its daily required level.
  • B vitamins: The vitamin B complex, including such vitamins as thiamin, is a must for keeping metabolism in check.
  • Vitamin A: Zucchini is also rich in vitamin A, providing 226 international units (IU); the daily recommended value is 5,000 IU.

A cup of zucchini also contains about 107 grams of water, so it can be an ideal vegetable to eat if you’re looking for hydrating foods. Some of that hydration can be lost during preparation, however.

Eating zucchini has another perk — its high antioxidant value. The yellow-skinned variety of zucchini is loaded with flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Those compounds can help your body get rid of potentially harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can speed up aging as well as the progression of some diseases.

Get Cooking with Zucchini

Summer squash, including zucchini, can be prepared a number of ways. It can be put on the grill, steamed, boiled, sautéed, fried, or roasted. Adding salt and oil will increase sodium and fat levels, though many people do that to add taste. For more nutrients, keep the skin on.

The recent trend of vegetable spiralizing (or using a mandolin) seems to have revived interested in zucchini. Many people use zucchini to prepare “zoodles,” which are an appealing alternative to traditional pastas (plus, you don’t have to have a trendy spiralizer to make zoodles).

Try these unique zucchini recipes to bring more healthy zucchini benefits — and delicious flavors — to your dinner table!

Zucchini Pad Thai Noodles “Zoodles”

The White on Rice Couple shares their concoction for flavorful and healthy Thai food using zucchini noodles.

Grilled Zucchini Pizza Slices

These slices of “pizza” are low-carb and gluten-free — and a fresh alternative to traditional pizza.

Sweet Zucchini Pancakes

Try these sweet vegetarian pancakes made with healthy zucchini.

Zucchini Waffles

The Perfect Pantry offers this recipe for zucchini waffles, which can be surprisingly flavorful even when not doused in sweet syrup!

Baked Zucchini Fries

This recipe brings you the appeal of a french fry with the goodness of summer squash.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Sweet Corn and Avocado

It’s a summer meal for sure, as zucchini is shredded into pasta-like ribbons and combined with two other veggies that pair perfectly together.

Lobster Cobb Salad and Zucchini Noodles

Enjoy a power pack of flavors that come together in this healthy Cobb salad. This recipe uses the spiralizer to create zoodles.

Zucchini Bread

Ideal any time of the day, as breakfast or dessert, this recipe comes from the popular food blog, Smitten Kitchen.