5 Reasons to add zucchini to your diet (plus 5 healthy recipes)
08/29/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
5 Reasons to add zucchini to your diet (plus 5 healthy recipes)

Zucchini, or courgette, is a summer squash related to other gourds like melons and cucumbers. It’s a popular food in the U.S. and in its neighboring countries, having originated from Central America.

Zucchini has gained some serious street cred in recent times because of its low-carb and fiber-rich profile. These characteristics render it the ideal substitute for potatoes, pasta and rice for those on a ketogenic diet.

But on top of its reputation as a keto vegetable, zucchini is also considered a natural medicine for colds, rashes and other minor ailments, thanks to its antioxidants and essential nutrients.

Health benefits

Zucchini has earned more than just its low-carb status. Like most superfoods, it’s a nutrient powerhouse. Let’s take a closer look at five of its most powerful health benefits.

  1. Fights inflammation – Zucchini contains micronutrients like vitamins A and C that double as antioxidants. These antioxidants scour our bodies for unstable molecules called free radicals that can cause inflammation and trigger the onset of several chronic diseases.
  2. Supports heart health – Diets with fiber-rich foods such as zucchini are closely associated with heart health. Pectin, in particular, is a soluble fiber in zucchini that reduces bad cholesterol. This cholesterol can clog arteries and raise the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
  3. Promotes digestion – If zucchini’s soluble fiber supports heart health, its insoluble fiber supports digestion. This fiber adds bulk to stools to make them easier to pass, thus reducing constipation risk. Like cucumbers and melons, zucchini also holds a lot of water, which helps soften stool.
  4. Regulates blood sugar – The reason zucchini is one of the go-to rice and potato substitutes is that, unlike those foods, it doesn’t raise blood sugar. In fact, zucchini’s soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, thus keeping it from spiking after a meal.
  5. Strengthens vision – Eating zucchini as part of a balanced diet can lead to better vision. This is because zucchini is rich in plant antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, that help improve vision and protect against age-related eye diseases.

Quick and simple recipes

Zucchini is simple enough to incorporate into a balanced diet. Plus, despite its bitterness, zucchini is mild-tasting enough to be baked into pastries, grilled as a side dish, used for stuffing or added to green salads. Give these recipes a go to eat more plant-based foods and fiber-rich dishes featuring zucchini.

Grilled basil chicken zucchini

This “dump” grill dinner recipe is quite flexible. Substitute fish for chicken, or prepare a bed of mashed potatoes instead of rice. Stick to the basics, but don’t be afraid to add some personal flair to it.

Total time: 20 minutes


  • 4 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise
  • 2 1/2 cup basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 lime, plus wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 red chili, sliced
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Cook the rice per package directions.
  2. In a bowl, zest the lime and squeeze in 2 tablespoons of its juice.
  3. Grate garlic into the bowl, then add the soy sauce, sugar and red chili. Set aside.
  4. Brush the zucchinis with a tablespoon of olive oil, then season them with salt and pepper.
  5. Rub the chicken tenders with the remaining olive oil, then season it with salt and pepper.
  6. Grill the zucchini and chicken until both are just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
  7. Transfer them onto a cutting board, then cut the zucchini and chicken into chunks.
  8. Prepare a bed of rice on a plate, then add the zucchini and chicken chunks.
  9. Pour the sauce, then sprinkle chopped basil. Serve with lime wedges.

Zucchini tots

This healthier take on traditional tater tots is starch-free and its main ingredient is a superfood, to boot. The crunchiness of these zucchini tots also makes them a delightful snack for both kids and adults.

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Shred the zucchinis. Using paper towels, squeeze the shredded zucchinis to get rid of extra moisture.
  3. In a bowl, combine the shredded zucchinis, egg, pecorino cheese, bread crumbs, garlic and pepper.
  4. Scoop the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Shape each scoop into a small log.
  5. Bake the zucchini tots until golden brown, about 20–22 minutes.
  6. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

Zucchini bread

Got too much zucchini from the garden? Make zucchini bread! This recipe also uses other delicious ingredients like cinnamon, oranges and shredded squash to make a tastier, not-so-bitter bread.

Total time: 1 hour and 25 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a metal loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, walnuts, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, shredded zucchini and orange zest.
  4. Combine the zucchini mixture and the flour mixture. Stir to create a batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes.
  6. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and set it on a cooling rack.

Zucchini and quinoa enchiladas

These protein-packed enchiladas are ideal for brunch and dinner. Fresh and filling, this recipe is sure to impress even the staunchest meat lover. Vegans and vegetarians can skip the cheese, too.

Total time: 55 minutes


  • 16 oz. pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 16 oz. red enchilada sauce
  • 6 oz. shredded cheese, cheddar or Cotija
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 2 medium zucchinis, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a large baking dish.
  2. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the zucchini, onion, poblano pepper and garlic until soft.
  3. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and quinoa into the pan. Cook for one minute or until quinoa is toasted.
  4. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Reduce it to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook until the broth is reduced and the quinoa is cooked, about 12–15 minutes.
  6. Turn off the head, then stir in the pinto beans.
  7. In the prepared baking dish, spread 1/4 cup of red enchilada sauce. Pour the remaining sauce into a shallow bowl or pie plate.
  8. Dip each tortilla into the red enchilada sauce to coat both sides.
  9. Transfer each one onto a plate, then pour 1/4 cup of the filling onto the center. Roll up the tortilla and place it, seam-side down, in the baking dish. Repeat for all tortillas.
  10. Pour the remaining sauce on the top and sprinkle the cheese.
  11. Bake the enchiladas until the cheese is melted, about 25 minutes.
  12. Serve when done or garnish with toppings of choice.

Fish and zucchini tacos

This recipe features roasted fish and zucchini, a healthier take on the usual fried fish tacos. Its also filling enough for brunch but light enough for a quick snack in the afternoon.

Total time: 25 minutes


  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 2 limes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lb. white fish (snapper, cod, bass or grouper)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup red salsa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Halve the zucchinis crosswise, then halve each piece lengthwise to create 8 wedges.
  3. On a rimmed baking sheet, season the zucchini wedges with olive oil, chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast them for 10 minutes.
  4. Move the zucchini wedges to one side of the baking sheet. Place the fish on the other side.
  5. Season the fish with the juice of one lime, 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast them for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas in a pan until warm.
  7. Break the roasted fish into chunks, then divide the fish and zucchini among the tortillas.
  8. Top each finished taco with avocado slices and the remaining cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and salsa.

This low-carb green squash has a lot more to offer than we might realize. Whip up these recipes to reap the benefits of zucchini’s nutrients and powerful plant compounds.




GoodHousekeeping.com 1

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