By: Vetri Community Partnership’s Community Dietitian, Tara Bledsoe MS, RDN, LDN
Late summer is the perfect time to celebrate National Zucchini Day, when gardens, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores are packed with zucchini and other nutritious vegetables. Just the other day, my neighbor dropped off a bag of beautiful dark green zucchini from their garden. This annual celebration is not just about savoring the delicious taste and versatility of zucchini and summer squash but also about acknowledging the abundant nutrition these veggies bring to our plates.
Zucchini and summer squash are nutrient dense, meaning that they are low in calories while high in important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The high fiber content of zucchini supports a healthy digestive system while also helping you to feel full longer.
These veggies are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. Vitamin C supports the immune system and collagen production, while potassium plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart function. Manganese, another valuable mineral found in these veggies, supports bone health and acts as a potent antioxidant, fighting off harmful free radicals.
Zucchini and summer squash are also packed with antioxidants, such as carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are essential for maintaining good eye health and protecting against age-related macular degeneration. These antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, which helps to lower the risk of chronic diseases.
As we celebrate National Zucchini Day, let’s honor the incredible nutrition of these green and yellow gems by incorporating them into our meals in healthy and delicious ways. I’ll never turn away zucchini from a neighbor when I can grill them, sauté them, or grate them up to make VCP’s Zucchini Fritters. The possibilities are endless!