Enjoy health benefits of zucchini

August is the perfect time to shop your local farmers market for zucchini, a low-calorie food that can help you lose weight as part of an overall healthy diet. Like other fruits and vegetables, zucchini is low in calories but contains satiating fiber and water that can help keep you full. Substituting it for empty-calorie snacks or replacing parts of your meals with zucchini may reduce the number of calories you consume overall, helping you lose weight.

However, the benefits of this squash go beyond calorie control. Zucchini is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, as well as a good source of potassium and magnesium. Because of its rich antioxidant content, zucchini can also protect against a variety of chronic illnesses, including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and age-related cognitive decline, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Zucchini may also contribute to a gut-friendly diet, thanks to its fiber content. High-fiber foods may help improve your overall gut health, while also essentially cleaning it of buildup and bacteria by keeping bowel movements regular.

This vegetable is great for eye health, including the reduction of puffy skin. Since this summer squash is 95% water content, it hydrates your body as well as other parts of your skin. Lutein found in zucchini reduces the chance of your skin responding to inflammation. Therefore, sunlight will not cause as much damage to your skin.

Whether you’re looking for a main dish, a side dish or a healthy dessert, healthy zucchini recipes are readily available online. See the zucchini bread recipe below.

Heart Healthy Zucchini Bread
This heart-healthy version uses ingredients like applesauce and olive oil to cut fat without sacrificing flavor.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Into a medium bowl, sift flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat sugar, applesauce, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix in zucchini. Add dry ingredients and walnuts and stir well. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Cut around bread to loosen. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.