Zucchini is a popular summer squash vegetable. Though zucchini can be found round the year, yet during summers zucchini numbers are more. Zucchini is a good example of a filling yet easily digestible, low cal summer meal.
Zucchini is believed to be a native of the Americas and archaeologists have evidence of zucchini production dating back 5000 to 7000 years BC. It was noticed that mostly the diet of native Americans consisted of what they call ‘three sisters’ viz., maize, beans and squashes. Through travellers and traders commuting between the Americas and Europe carried squashes such as zucchini to the Europe and finally zucchini was accepted across Europe in the 19th century.
The reason why zucchini was of particular interest to native Americans as well as early settlers was perhaps, the easy growing nature of zucchini plant. But, there is a catch. Zucchini can grow in very hot places, but it cannot withstand very low temperatures.
Nutrition found in Zucchini
According to the National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrients found in zucchini include
|Nutrients||Value per 100 g||Nutrients||Value per 100 g|
|Water||92.73 g||Energy||21 kcal|
|Protein||2.71 g||Total lipid (fat)||0.40 g|
|Carbohydrate||3.11 g||Fiber||1.1 g|
|Calcium||21 mg||Iron||0.79 mg|
|Magnesium||33 mg||Phosphorous||93 mg|
|Potassium||459 mg||Sodium||3 mg|
|Zinc||0.83 mg||Vitamin C||34.1 mg|
|Thiamin||0.042 mg||Riboflavin||0.036 mg|
|Niacin||0.705 mg||Vitamin B-6||0.142 mg|
|Folate||20 ug||Vitamin A||490 IU|
Can zucchini be given to babies?
Yes, they can be given to your little ones. But, it is better to wait until your baby is between 8-10 months old, as there is a chance that zucchini might cause allergies to your baby.
Health benefits of zucchini for babies
Here are some of the important health benefits of zucchini for babies
The presence of calcium: During the initial years, calcium plays a crucial role in baby’s development. Calcium found in zucchini is essential for the development of bones in babies. Apart from bone development, calcium is also useful for growing healthy teeth and gums and calcium helps in transporting nutrients all over the body.
Good source of magnesium: Magnesium is another mineral which is found in zucchini. Magnesium is also important for bone development besides calcium, as calcium and magnesium have an equal share in strengthening bones. Apart from this, magnesium is also useful for activating enzymes in the body for digestion as well as for creating energy at the cellular level and it controls urinary bladders.
Supplies phosphorous: Another important mineral found in abundance in zucchini is phosphorous. Many body functions are facilitated through phosphorous. Phosphorous promotes digestion, removes weaknesses like numbness, fatigue, etc. Phosphorous also plays an important role in promoting brain development.
Builds immunity through vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the vitamins found in abundance in zucchini. Vitamin C plays an important role in strengthening the immune system and it also increases mucous and other fluid production in the body. These fluids act as the first line of defence against invading microbes.
Supplies vitamin B complex: B complex vitamins include vitamin B-6, thiamin, niacin, folate, etc. These are present in moderation in zucchini. While vitamin B-6 is useful for infant brain development, immune system functioning and for producing enzymes for metabolism. Thiamin is another B complex vitamin that is useful for energy production, forms protective layers around nerves, red blood cell production.
Easily digestible: The high water content in zucchini, dietary fiber and the lower amount of carbohydrates, sugars and virtually 0% of fat makes it an easily digestible vegetable. During times, when the baby is suffering from digestive problems, zucchini can be fed to your baby for easy digestion.
Measures to be taken while giving zucchini to your baby
Here are some of the measures that should be taken when you want to feed your baby with zucchini.
Size and texture of zucchini: You can find zucchini in various sizes ranging from 10 cm to 1 foot or more. You can select small zucchini, but make sure that it is uniformly firm with no soft spots or dark spots of any sort. Smaller zucchini are very soft and tender and easy to digest. If you find a deeper dark spot, then cut away at least 1cm of surrounding area to avoid bacterial or fungal infestations.
How to store zucchini: Zucchini can be found in abundance during summers and with its high water content (about 93%) it would be very hard to store it. Zucchini cannot last longer, even if you store it in your refrigerator. It can last only for about 3-4 days to the max. Make sure that zucchini is very dry on the outside when refrigerating it. Moisture can help breed microbes. Do not freeze it as well. Freezing will freeze the water inside of zucchini and the fresh taste could be lost.
How to prepare zucchini before cooking: Rinse the outer layer of zucchini thoroughly to remove any dirt and pesticide residue. If you are very particular about pesticide residue, then try your local organic stores. If you are buying from organic stores, you don’t need to peel. After rinsing it, peel off the outer layer and cut zucchini into medium sized or small pieces or you can simply grate them as well. Before you start cutting, taste a small piece of zucchini to make sure that it is not bitter. Melons and squashes contain a natural toxin named cucurbitacin which makes them bitter.
How to cook zucchini for babies: Take these pieces and steam-boil them for few minutes. Boiling them directly can take away all the nutrients. Or you can cook it according to your favorite recipes.