Summer Squash and Zucchini Nutrition Facts

Calories in Summer Squash and Their Health Benefits

Variety of summer squash
Carolyn Ross Photography/Photolibrary/Getty Images.

Summer squashes are members of the gourd family, cousins of winter squash. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors and are low in calories and carbohydrates.

Zucchini, yellow crookneck, and pattypan (scallop) squash are common varieties. Zucchini are also called marrow (vegetable marrow or Italian marrow) and courgette, depending on how large the vegetable is and where in the world you are.

In the United States, summer squash is available all year long.

Zucchini Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup raw, chopped (124 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 21 
Calories from Fat 2 
Total Fat 0.2g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 12mg1%
Potassium 324.88mg9%
Carbohydrates 3.9g1%
Dietary Fiber 1.2g5%
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, such as zucchini, is a non-starchy vegetable that is very low in calories and carbohydrate. It is one of those foods that you can eat without feeling guilty because it fits very well on a low-carbohydrate and modified carbohydrate diet. One cup of raw zucchini contains 21 calories, 3.9 g carbohydrate and 1.2 grams fiber. Zucchini has slightly lower calorie (about 2 calories less) and carbohydrate content (about 1 grams less) as compared to other summer squash varieties.

Health Benefits of Summer Squash

Summer squash is a very good source of vitamin C, providing 32 percent of your daily needs in one cup raw. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is important in boosting immunity, repairing cells, and slowing down the aging process.

Summer squash is also a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, and manganese.

Vitamin B6 is important in protein metabolism. Riboflavin is important in the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Manganese is a mineral that is an important in many metabolic pathways, including gluconeogenisis, which is the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate precursors, as well as bone, and cartilage formation.

Summer squash also contains a fair amount of carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help protect us from some age-related eye conditions.

Common Questions About Summer Squash

Can you eat the skin?

Yes. Summer squash contains a thin skin that can be consumed. In fact, eating the skin maximizes the antioxidant content. In addition, the seeds are edible too. To avoid excess pesticides, consider purchasing organic squash.

Can you eat it raw?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to eat raw. You can dip it in your favorite dipping sauce or enjoy the crunch on its own.

Picking and Storing Summer Squash

When purchasing squash, look for shiny skin that is free of blemishes, bruises, nicks, and soft spots. The skin should be firm to the touch, especially the stem, and should feel heavy for their size.

Store fresh squash whole and unwashed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

Before slicing, make sure you wash the skin thoroughly with a vegetable brush and cold water.

To freeze summer squash, grate it, spread it on a parchment-lined baking sheet to freeze, and then pack in a freezer bag. Frozen vegetables usually last about 1 year in the freezer. Note, that frozen squash tends to be very mushy and its texture typically works well for making soups only.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Summer Squash

Summer squash is a beautiful, nutritious, and tasty vegetable to add to any meal. It has a thin skin and soft, moist flesh that lends itself well to steaming, grilling, roasting, baking and sauteing.

Frozen summer squash contains a mushy texture and is good to use in soups. Grated zucchini is used to make zucchini bread.

Play with the shape of your squash—dice it, julienne it, cut it into cubes, or get fancy and make pasta. Summer squash is a fantastic low-carb 'pasta' option. Lastly, use leftovers to toss into salads, top sandwiches, or add to your egg scramble.

Recipes with Summer Squash

Play with spices and flavors when preparing your squash; try savory, spicy or simple.

Sources: 

Linus Pauling Institute. Manganese

Linus Pauling Institute. Riboflavin. 

Linus Pauling Institute. B6

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