Why You Should Eat More Zucchini

Although the popular summer vegetable we now know as zucchini was likely bred in late 1800's Italy, archaeologists have seeds from its ancestors in Mexico dating back to 9000 – 4000 B.C. (via The Kitchen Project). But zucchini's long history of feeding humans isn't the only reason you should be eating it. Zucchini is also healthful and incredibly versatile. Whether cooked or raw, zucchini is a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds (via Food Revolution). These include disease-fighters like vitamins A and C, as well as the enzymes glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. Remember that these superstar compounds live in the skin, so never peel zucchini.

Zucchini can also be a great tool if you're looking to drop extra weight. Swapping some higher-carb foods for high-fiber zucchini (think zoodles or using long slices of zucchini for your lasagna noodles) helps you avoid blood sugar spikes that can trigger weight gain. You'll also save calories. According to Slender Kitchen, a cup of zucchini noodles contains just 19 calories compared to 196 for a cup of cooked spaghetti (via Nutritionix). Of course, by including zucchini in your diet, you increase your water and fiber intake, which your meal more filling. Fiber is also good for your heart, as are zucchini's folate, potassium, and magnesium, which help reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Finally, if you're thinking of getting pregnant, keep in mind that zucchini's B complex vitamins, folic acid, and magnesium help to make both healthy moms and babies (via The Cookist). 

Zucchini is a very versatile vegetable

If you know a gardener, you've probably heard: "What am I going to do with all these zucchini?!" Owing in part to its prodigious nature in the garden, creative home cooks and professionals have come up with a seemingly endless number of ideas and recipes for zucchini. This is another reason you should be eating lots of zucchini: From starters to desserts, there's so much you can do with it. Snacks and starters are a great way to work this versatile vegetable into your diet. Zucchini garlic bites (via Grow a Good Life) can kick off a party with Italian flair while baked zucchini tots are a great alternative to the potato variety (via A Spicy Perspective).

Zucchini can even be turned into a cool summer gazpacho (via Food & Wine) or a pesto sauce (via My Recipes) for pasta or pizza. Remember zucchini flowers are also edible and practically call out to be stuffed with ricotta and fried (via Bon Appetit). And while you can marinate (via Savoring Italy) or pickle it (via Natasha's Kitchen) for charcuterie or sandwiches, zucchini is hearty enough to build a meal around. Zucchini fritters can be served with herbed yogurt (via Delicious) and a satisfying polenta topped with sliced zucchini and served with zucchini pesto is the ultimate comfort food (via Delicious). A final bit of advice: The most flavorful zucchini are under six inches (via HGTV) so pick them early or choose small ones when shopping.