Zucchini

For many people, summertime is simply incomplete without serving a delicious array of scrumptious green vegetables. But here’s an idea: why not take a break from the usual leafy green salads, and dig into a plateful of succulent zucchini instead?

A member of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), zucchini is an easy-to-grow summer squash native to Central America and Mexico. It was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants during the 1920s. Some popular zucchini varieties include golden zucchini, tatume, costata romanesco, and yellow crooknecks.

You’ll surely be impressed with the nutritional bounty that zucchini offers. It’s low-calorie (with only 17 calories per 100 grams) and high in fiber, and has no cholesterol or unhealthy fats. It’s also rich in flavonoid antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, carotenes, and lutein, which play a significant role in slowing down aging and preventing diseases with their free radical-zapping properties.  Most of the antioxidants and fiber are in its skin, though, so it’s best to keep the skin when serving this food.  Zucchini is also a wonderful source of potassium, a heart-friendly nutrient that helps moderate your blood pressure levels and counters the effects of too much sodium. In fact, a zucchini has more potassium than a banana.

Did you know that the largest zucchini ever recorded was 69 ½ inches long and weighed 65 pounds?  Thanks to Bernard Lavery of Plymouth Devon, UK, who grew the massive vegetable in his garden.

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