Zucchini, also known as courgette, is a type of summer squash with many culinary uses.
While it’s commonly served cooked, many people enjoy eating zucchini raw too, as it works great in salads, with dips, as a wrap, or even spiralized to make low-carb noodles.
However, there’s concern that eating raw zucchini can be bad for your health.
This article helps answer the question — can you eat raw zucchini?
Although zucchini is often treated as a vegetable, it’s botanically classified as a fruit. Like other fruits, its wide array of nutrients may benefit your health in many ways.
Here are some ways that eating zucchini may improve your health:
- Packed with nutrients. Zucchini provides vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols. These compounds act as antioxidants, which protect your cells against free radical damage (1,
- Promotes healthy digestion. Water and both the soluble and insoluble fiber in zucchini can help lower your risk of constipation. Soluble fiber also acts as a source of nourishment for your friendly gut bacteria (3,
- May promote weight loss. Zucchini is high in water and fiber yet low in calories. These properties may curb your appetite and aid weight loss (
- Promotes healthy blood sugar levels. Zucchini is low in carbs and a good source of fiber. Diets high in fiber from fruits and vegetables may help control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (
- May improve heart health. Zucchini is a good source of soluble fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, all of which may reduce heart disease risk factors (
8, 9, 10).
- May promote healthy vision. Zucchini offers beta-carotene and vitamin C, which promote healthy vision. They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may reduce the risk of age-related eye disorders (
Summary Zucchini has been linked to many health benefits, such as improved digestion, weight loss, healthy blood sugar levels, healthy vision, and improved heart health.
In most cases, raw zucchini is safe to eat with little to no side effects.
However, you may occasionally encounter an extremely bitter one. This bitterness comes from cucurbitacins, a class of compounds found in members of the Cucurbitaceae family, such as squash, zucchini, and gourds (
However, these effects were mostly associated with eating members of the Cucurbitaceae family that contain high amounts of cucurbitacins, such as certain gourds — not commercially grown varieties (
While cucurbitacin poisoning is dangerous, it’s rare from store-bought zucchinis, as suppliers tend to selectively breed crops that are low in cucurbitacins. Instead, be careful when eating wild zucchini, as they’re more likely to be high in these compounds (
That said, if you bite into zucchini and it tastes extremely unpleasant and bitter, it’s best to spit it out and dispose of the entire fruit to avoid the risk of cucurbitacin toxicity.
Another potential side effect of eating raw zucchini is bloating. This is caused by nutrients like cellulose, a structural component of plant cell walls, and soluble fiber, which is fermented by your healthy gut bacteria and produces gas as a side effect (
Lastly, as with any raw fruit, there’s a potential risk of contamination from bacteria or parasites (
Scrubbing the zucchini with a soft brush before eating it will help reduce bacteria on the skin and can also reduce pesticide residue found on fresh produce (
Summary Raw zucchini is generally safe to eat, but in some cases, it may be extremely bitter. This indicates that it’s high in cucurbitacins, which are compounds that can be toxic. However, cucurbitacin poisoning is very unlikely from commercial varieties.
In short, commercial varieties of zucchini should be safe to eat raw.
They are delicious, incredibly healthy, and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
However, if you bite into an extremely bitter zucchini, it’s best to dispose of it. This is a sign of high concentrations of cucurbitacins, which may be harmful.
Although it’s unlikely that you will purchase an extremely bitter zucchini from the supermarket, if you do, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it out.
That said, the majority of produce purchased from supermarkets or farms is safe and healthy to eat raw or cooked.
Make sure to wash the zucchini thoroughly to avoid the risk of contamination from bacteria. Additionally, make sure to store it appropriately in the refrigerator for later use.
Summary Commercial raw zucchini is typically safe, delicious, and very healthy. Just make sure to wash it thoroughly to minimize the risk of food poisoning and store it appropriately. If you find that one that tastes very bitter, throw it away.
Commercial varieties of zucchini should be safe to eat raw with little risk.
They are selectively grown and bred to be low in cucurbitacins, which are compounds found naturally in zucchini, squash, and gourds that may be toxic in high doses.
However, if you bite into zucchini and it’s extremely bitter, it’s best to dispose of the entire fruit to avoid the risk of cucurbitacin poisoning, which can be dangerous.
Also, make sure to wash zucchini thoroughly to remove traces of bacteria or parasites found in nature that may potentially cause food poisoning.