With all of the hype surrounding zucchini, it can be easy to forget that they don’t just have edible leaves. While the leaves of the zucchini plant are not typically eaten, they do offer a number of health benefits.
Zucchini leaves are often discarded when preparing and cooking zucchini. However, these greens can be highly nutritious and packed with health benefits. Here are five possible reasons why you may want to start adding zucchini leaves to your diet.
What are zucchini leaves?
Zucchini leaves are the leafy greens attached to a zucchini plant. They can be grown from seeds or cuttings and harvested roughly 50 days after planting.
Broad, flat, and lobed leaves are the most predominant feature of the zucchini plant. Located at the end of a long stem, they are the health indicators of the plant. Healthy leaves are dark green; although, some zucchini leaves develop silvery spots which are totally normal and healthy on some varieties. Colors of yellow, brown, black, white, or light green indicate plant stress.
Remember that you should only eat the leaves of organic, pesticide-free plants. Zucchini leaves share many of the same health benefits as other green leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach, and lettuce.
5 Health Benefits of Zucchini Leaves
The zucchini, which is part of the Cucurbitaceae family, is a type of summer squash. When you buy zucchini at your local grocery store or market, it usually has both edible flesh and fruit. However, the leaves that grow on this plant are often discarded before cooking and eating because they can be tough and bitter to eat.
This can be a mistake because zucchini leaves offer a number of health benefits, including the following:
Zucchini Leaves Reduces Stress and Tension
Zucchini leaves relax the body and improve overall blood flow. With a rich amount of flavonoids, Vitamin C, and potassium, this plant is an effective way to reduce the build-up of lactic acid in muscles and tissues after periods of physical exertion. This also has bioenergetic benefits, as tension can be passed onto the zucchini leaves in the form of an energetic “shock” when being cut. Eating zucchini leaves in this way may have a calming effect on the mind, which is also due to flavonoids.
In addition, zucchini leaves can be blended into a tea to reduce nervous stress and hypertension.
Drinking a cup of organic zucchini leaf tea can help the body to relax and unwind, which is especially effective for those who suffer from mental stress or depression.
Zucchini leaves are high in fiber and help to balance blood sugar levels. They also have mild laxative effects, regulate the colon, and alleviate constipation. By improving digestion, zucchini leaves may improve nutrient absorption. Due to their high mineral content, zucchini leaves may also improve the quality of stools and reduce discomfort in the digestive tract.
Boosts the Immune System
Zucchini leaves are rich in Vitamin A, which is important for overall growth and development. It also helps to protect against bacterial and viral infections. Zucchini leaves contain carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lutein, which have been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer.
In addition, zucchini leaves are rich in Beta-cryptoxanthin, an important antioxidant that boosts liver function and helps to fight radiation damage from chemotherapy.
The mineral selenium also works as a powerful antioxidant that protects against aging and cancer.
Zucchini leaves have a strong antioxidant and antimutagenic effect. This means they help prevent or slow down the development of cancer in the body. A recent study published in Food Chemistry revealed that zucchini leaves contain large quantities of antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenolic acid compounds.
These natural chemicals provide protection against cancer in the body.
It is believed that the antioxidant and antimutagenic properties of zucchini leaves help to reduce inflammation in the body. Similar to other green leafy vegetables, zucchini leaves promote intestinal health by removing toxins from the gut. This also helps to protect against colon cancer.
Zucchini leaves contain a rich amount of Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are essential for fertility in both men and women. In addition, zucchini leaves contain a high level of folic acid, which is required for DNA synthesis.
This nutrient also plays an important role in hormonal functions. Zucchini leaves are a good choice for women who are trying to conceive, as a regular intake can help to maintain hormonal balance.
In addition, zucchini leaves have an alkaline effect on the body. They also contain Vitamin B, which is important for reproductive health and strengthens the immune system. In particular, Vitamin B6 has been linked to fertility in both men and women.
According to a recent study, zucchini leaves may help to balance hormone levels, stimulate hormonal activity, and increase libido. This is due to their rich amount of potassium, which is an essential element for the activity of sex hormones.
These properties make zucchini leaves nutritional supplements suitable for those who are trying to conceive.
How do you store zucchini leaves?
Both raw and cooked zucchini leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. It is important to wash them before storing them, but they should not be dried.
If you are planning on freezing zucchini leaves, it is best to blanch them first. This process involves boiling the leaves for about one minute and then immediately submerging them in an ice-water bath. This will help prevent the leaves from oxidizing and turning brown.
Blanching also helps to soften the leaves and makes them easier to chew.
Zucchini leaves can also be dried, which is useful if you would like to prepare zucchini leaf tea or add some flavor to your dishes. To do this, simply wash the leaves and place them in a dehydrator for six to eight hours. After that, store the dried leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Zucchini leaves are an excellent source of nutrients that can provide a number of health benefits to the human body. As mentioned, zucchini leaves are often thrown away, but they are quite edible and even have medicinal qualities.
With so many health benefits, it’s hard to believe that zucchini leaves have gone so underutilized. It’s time to get adventurous and try some zucchini, whether it’s in a stir fry, on a sandwich, or in a soup.