What you need to know:
- Courgettehas been linked to many health benefits, such as improved digestion, weight loss, healthy blood sugar levels, healthy vision, and improved heart health.
Zucchini or courgette is a squash in the Cucurbitaceae plant family commonly in green colours or yellow colurs.
According to Dr Andrew Ssekitoleko, a general physician, Zucchini is often referred to as a vegetable but it is botanically classified as a fruit.
It can be eaten raw (as salad), stewed with other vegetables to make sauce, baked or blended into soup.
Peterson Kato Kikomeko, an assistant lecturer of human nutrition at Kyambogo University, says this family of vegetables that also includes cucumbers are mainly rich in vitamins A, C, B (vitamins-B6 in particular), and some minerals such aspotassium and magnesium. He adds that they also provide dietary fibre and are deficient of fats.
According to Ssekitoleko, zucchini has been used in folk medicine to treat colds and aches plus other health conditions.
Blood sugar levels
Zucchini also contains fibre, which may increase insulin resistance, thus stabilising blood sugar levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
According to healthline.com, low-carb diets can significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels, both of which may keep blood sugar levels stable and reduce the need for medication in people with type 2 diabetes.
Also, with its dietary fibre, it can delay glucose absorption and stabilise blood sugar, preventing levels from spiking after meals.
Water and fibre, according to Ssekitoleko, promote a healthy gut and digestion, adding bulk to stool and in the process, reducing risks of constipation.
Zucchini offers beta-carotene and vitamin C, which promote healthy vision. Vitamin A is important for improving eyesight, immunity, and cell growth. Dr Kikomeko says its deficiency is one of the public health challenges in Uganda and in other countries.
Public health measures such as fortification of cooking oil with Vitamin A, giving children Vitamin A drops, and promoting consumption of orange-flesh sweet potatoes are being undertaken to reduce incidence of vitamin A deficiency.
According to Healthline.com, zucchini contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Research shows that these antioxidants can accumulate in your retina, improving your vision and reducing your risk of age-related eye diseases
The B vitamins are important for improving nutrient metabolism. Kikomeko says it helps to convert the nutrients obtained from food to energy, which is then used by the body to perform other physiological processes.
“B6 in particular contributes to having a health nervous system,” he said.
According to stylecraze.com, zucchini provides much more health remedies including weight loss, helping in treating asthma, protecting against colon cancer, slowing down the aging process and is good for babies, let alone pregnant women.
It should be noted that it works best along with other nutritious foods, which is only right to include it in your diet and not have it solely on its own.
Dangers of raw zucchini
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.
Intake of foods high in cucurbitacins has been linked to poisoning and death in sheep and cattle. In humans, they have been linked to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, hair loss, and even death.
However, these effects were mostly associated with eating members of the Cucurbitaceae family that contain high amounts of cucurbitacins, such as certain gourds, which are not commercially grown varieties.