Squashes & Zucchini

Squashes & Zucchini

Who loves squash and zucchini as much as we do? Read up and you will, too! YUM  🙂 

Did You Know? Recent studies have shown that squashes and zucchini are great for you! Rich in minerals and nutrition, squash varieties are a huge resource of copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, and fiber. Not only does squash taste yummy, it’s great to know it’s actually good for you! 

Most of us know that there are a variety of squashes and zucchini, which might look slightly different from one another, but all of them feature great nutrition.  In fact, variations of squash and zucchini have been proven to contain high levels of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, as much as 36% higher than most other foods! 

In addition, squash contains a high amount of Carotenoids. When you buy organic, it is much safer to include eating the skins because you are not wrangling with chemical spraying, so always buy as much organic, non-GMO whenever possible.  We talk more about this later on the page. 

If you enjoy the GREEN varieties of summer squash like Zucchini, you can easily treat them as a part of your green vegetable intake. While most people don’t do this, we as humans should be consuming approximately 8 servings of green vegetables per day, even more if you can handle the work and preparation! 

Many people are big fans of the yellow squash varieties, we recommend that you treat them as part of your yellow/orange vegetable intake. An optimal recommended serving would be about one cup per day. Alongside yellow summer squash, throw in yellow/orange vegetables like sweet potato, carrots, and yellow bell peppers, which can contribute to your daily yellow/orange total. 

Alongside zucchini, many different types of green vegetables are available to provide you with exceptional nourishment. Included here are dark green leafy vegetables from the cruciferous group, like mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, or collards.  From the green vegetables group, add parsley, fennel and celery. From the Allium vegetables, add leeks, green lettuces or romaine.  From the bean or legume groups throw in green peas and green beans. 

The rule-of-thumb with any and all foods is to eat them as they come into season. That way, you receive optimal nutrition at the right time of year!

Squash & Zucchini Health Benefits

In terms of nutrient richness, we at Raw Food Guru rate summer squash as an excellent source of two minerals (copper and manganese) and very good or good source of six additional minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium, and iron). Zucchini-type summer squashes boasts even higher nutrition!

In the vitamin category, it’s striking to see the number of B-vitamins provided by summer squash in very good or good amounts. These B-vitamins include B1, B2, B3, B6, pantothenic acid, choline, and folate. Other vitamins provided by summer squash in “very good” or “good” amounts include vitamin C and vitamin K.

In terms of macronutrients, summer squash earns a ranking of “good” for both protein and fiber offering approximately 2.5 grams per 1 cup serving and only 36 calories. 

In this macronutrient category, summer squash also achieves a “good” ranking for its omega-3 fatty acid content. At 150 milligrams per serving, the total amount of omega-3s is not super high, but it’s important to remember that you are getting these 150 milligrams in only 36 calories of food! 

By comparison, consider a food like salmon that is normally singled out for its omega-3 content. From salmon, you get 1,300 milligrams of omega-3s for 158 calories. When you do the math here, you get about 8 milligrams of omega-3s per calorie of salmon, and about 4 milligrams of omega-3s per calorie of summer squash. While this per-calorie amount is twice as high in salmon as in summer squash, many people would not expect summer squash to show up anywhere on the omega-3 radar screen, so this is impressive!

Zucchini Nutrition Facts

Serving Size:
1 cup raw, chopped (124 g)
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 21  
Calories from Fat 2  
Total Fat 0.2g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g  
Monounsaturated Fat 0g  
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 12mg 1%
Potassium 324.88mg 9%
Carbohydrates 3.9g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1.2g 5%
Sugars 3.1g  
Protein 1.5g  
Vitamin A 5% 
Vitamin C 35%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Summer Squash Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup of sliced
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 2
Calories 18%
Daily Values*Total Fat 0.2g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.05g 0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.101g  
Monounsaturated Fat 0.018g  
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Potassium 296mg  
Total Carbohydrate 3.79g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1.2g 5%
Sugars 2.49g  
Protein 1.37g   
Vitamin A 5%
Vitamin C 32%
Calcium 2% Iron 2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Squashes are a Natural Antioxidant

Great for reducing oxidative stress squashes are rich in zinc and vitamin C. Also because of their high carotenoid, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, and beta-carotene content, squashes are great immunity builders!

Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties that Can Improve Heart HealthZucchini and other squashes are largely made of water and carbohydrates, specifically the type called polysaccharides. Summer squash includes a good percentage of the fiber called pectin, which is a type of beneficial polysaccharide that is linked to improved cardiovascular health and the ability to lower cholesterol naturally. Pectin fiber, which is also found in apples and pears, is known to improve arterial health and reduce disease-causing inflammation, so it might also offer protection against diabetes and insulin resistance.

Natural Obesity & Diabetes Reducer

Since obesity and heart disease risk factors are often linked, it’s beneficial that zucchini can help support weight loss. Studies show that low-sugar and low-carb diets can be effective in bodyweight management since they positively impact insulin and other hormones. Of course, there are other factors to consider, especially how many healthy sources of fats and fresh whole fruits someone consumes, but zucchini can definitely play a role in a heart-healthy diet that also improves bodyweight.

Apart from weight loss and increase in physical activity, the development of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by dietary changes. Because zucchini are low in carbs and sugar, and both filling and nutrient-dense, they can play a role in diabetes prevention. (They’re also a good choice for any healthy weight loss program for the same reason.)

The polysaccharide fibers found in zucchini and other squash, including pectin, have special benefits for blood sugar regulation. For anyone struggling with diabetes, zucchini can help combat problems controlling blood sugar levels since they’re a very low-carb, low-glycemic veggie that helps prevent insulin spikes and dips.

The state of prediabetes is characterized by an increase in insulin resistance and a decrease in pancreatic beta cell function. The early stages of type 2 diabetes can be identified by an impaired glucose tolerance or by an impaired fasting blood sugar. Research shows that a diet with high dietary fiber intake of more than 30 grams per day can be a simple and effective preventive approach.
Consuming high-fiber foods has many positive effects on the physical health status in addition to blood sugar control. It also positively impacts the gastrointestinal tract, has potential to support weight reduction, and can improve disturbances of carbohydrate and fat metabolism that might lead to heart disease.

Natural Thyroid Regular

Did You Know? It has been found that squash extract showed beneficial effects in regard to thyroid, adrenal and insulin regulation. They attributed these improvements to the antioxidant effects of squash’s phytonutrient chemicals!

High Source of Potassium

Zucchini is high in the heart-healthy mineral potassium. One cup of cooked zucchini gives you more than 15 percent of your daily value, which is usually more than what’s included in the typical multivitamin supplement!

Research suggests that low potassium is tied to imbalances with other minerals that can raise the risk for heart disease and other complications. Potassium can also be a natural way to lower blood pressure because it counteracts the effects of a high-sodium diet. Increasing potassium intake can slash your stroke risk and may also lower your odds of developing heart disease.

Helps Improve Digestion

Zucchini and other types of summer squash are often recommended for digestive issues and diverticulitis since they’re hydrating and provide essential electrolytes and nutrients. Research suggests that zucchini also offers anti-inflammatory protection within the GI tract that can reduce IBS, ulcer-related symptoms and leaky gut syndrome.

There is now mounting evidence to indicate that a compromised epithelial barrier is associated with low-grade immune activation and intestinal dysfunction that can lead to IBS symptoms in some patients. Eating anti-inflammatory foods, such as plenty of non-starchy fresh vegetables, is the first step to lowering body-wide inflammation and gut-related issues.

Zucchini are also very easily digested since they’re largely water, plus they also offer some dietary fiber that can bring natural constipation relief or help treat diarrhea. To obtain the biggest digestive boost, eat the whole vegetable, including the nutrient-rich seeds and skin. You can even add some raw zucchini to your favorite Green Smoothie Recipes.

Did You Know? Squash belongs to a very large family of plants usually referred to as the gourd family. Since the science name for this family is Cucurbitaceae, (Cucurbita genus) Members include summer squashes, winter squashes, and melons that belong to this group: 
Cucurbita genus – winter squashes & summer squashesCucumis genus – cucumberCantaloupeCasaba melonsCrenshaw melonsHoneydew melonsMuskmelonCitrullus genusWatermelonsBitter apple


Summer squashes are typically harvested before full maturity, within a period about approximately 50-60 days. They are intended to be placed into the market as quickly as possible after harvest. 

Winter squashes, by contrast, are allowed to fully mature in a time frame that may take 60-110 days. Winter squashes are also allowed to develop a much thicker outer skin allowing for storage over many months and thus “winter storage.” We always recommend using up your food as quickly as possible in any environment, to ensure fresh nutrition, but ask your own grocer for assistance. 


While highly diverse, summer squashes commonly enjoyed in the United States can be placed into three basic groups: (1) zucchini-type squashes, (2) straightneck and crookneck squashes, and (3) scallop-type, “pan” squashes. The great thing about all squashes is they are high in nutrition, rich in fiber and low in fat! What can be better?

Popular varieties of zucchini in the U.S. include Cocozelle, Black Beauty, Spineless Beauty, Greyzini, Raven, Ambassador, and Contender. Yellow-skinned zucchini-type squashes include Gold Rush and Golden Dawn.

Virtually all of the straightneck and crookneck summer squashes that you will find in the supermarket are yellow in color. Like their name suggests, crookneck varieties have a bend in their thinner neck region. However, this bend can be fairly slight and also fairly gradual, making some crookneck varieties appear very similar to their fellow straightneck varieties. Early Prolific is one of the most popular straightneck varieties. Golden Summer and Early Summer are two very popular crookneck varieties.

Scallop-type summer squashes get their name from their scallop-like shape. These varieties are also called “patty pan” squashes. Early White Bush, Yellow Bush, and Bennings Green Tint are some popular varieties of scallop-type summer squashes.
In the U.K., New Zealand and Australia, you might hear the terms “Marrow” and “Courgette” in conjunction with squashes. Generally speaking, the French term “courgette” is used to refer to smaller and less mature squashes, and the term “marrow” is used to refer to larger and more mature forms.

All summer squashes commonly sold in the U.S. belong to the science genus/species Cucurbita pepo. This genus/species is native to North America, even though it is now widely cultivated.

Squash History

Summer squash is native to North America, and especially to the central and southern regions of what is now the United States. Wild varieties of summer squash also still grow in the more northern parts of Mexico. Fairly quickly, summer squash was domesticated and grown throughout North America, Central America, and South America. Today, squashes are widely cultivated worldwide. In the U.S., Florida, California, New York, and Michigan produce the most summer squash. However, a large amount of summer squash is also imported into the U.S., predominantly from Mexico.

On a worldwide basis, China, India, Russia, the United States, Mexico, and Iran are among the top squash-producing countries (when both summer and winter squashes are included). Squash also plays an important role in food systems throughout the Pacific Islands region, including islands like Tonga, Fiji, New Guinea, and the state of Hawaii.

How to Select and Store

When purchasing summer squash, look for ones that are heavy for their size and have shiny, unblemished rinds. Additionally, the rinds should not be very hard since this indicates that the squash are over-mature and will have hard seeds and stringy flesh. Purchase summer squash that are of average size since those that are overly large may be fibrous, while those that are overly small may be inferior in flavor.

Summer squash is actually more fragile than you would think. It should be handled with care as small punctures can easily lead to decay. It should be stored unwashed in an air-tight container, preferably refrigerated or in a cool environment, where it will keep for about seven days.

As we stated earlier, always try to buy organic. If you are uncertain about what you are purchasing, ask your grocer for assistance. They are always happy to help.

Cooking and Preparation

As with most foods, cut off the ends and work with everything else.

Steaming is probably the best method of preparation for squash varieties. Begin by slicing your summer squash and steaming for three minutes. Boiling tends to kill off nutrition fairly quickly. 

That being said, light sauté and even light baking can be beneficial! The key is not to overcook. If you wish to sauté, simply add a little water or olive oil to a warm pan. Add ingredients and stir until cooked “al dante” or still firm.  Of course, this all depends on what you are cooking, but for general good health, this is sound advice. 

So now that you’ve learned everything you ever wanted to know about squashes and zucchini, get out there and eat some! You and your body will be happy you did.

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