Although most treat zucchini as a vegetable, botanically speaking—it’s actually a fruit and found in several varieties ranging from deep yellow to dark green.
Zucchini is a kind of summer squash that is typically harvested before it gets mature on the vine. At this stage, the skin is thin and tender, and you don’t need to peel the skin when cooking.
But can you eat zucchini skin?
The skin, seeds, and flowers of the zucchini are all edible, and this summer squash is full of nutritional benefits. It’s ok to eat zucchini skin raw as long as you wash it well before consuming.
The fiber from the skin provides several health benefits, including improved digestion. Zucchini skin has beta-carotene, which assists in antioxidant activity protecting the cells from cellular damage.
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Potential Risks Of Eating Raw Zucchini
Typically, zucchini is cooked before eating, but some folks love eating zucchini raw.
This vegetable is excellent with salads, dips, wraps, or as zucchini noodles.
However, some people wonder if eating raw zucchini or zucchini skin raw is good for your health.
In most cases, eating raw zucchini is perfectly safe, with little to no adverse effects.
There is one cause for concern, however. Zucchinis have cucurbitacins, a class of compounds common in zucchini, squash, and gourds. These vegetables fall in the Cucurbitaceae family.
Consuming fruits and vegetables high in cucurbitacins can lead to poisoning and death in cattle.
For humans, the intake of foods with a high concentration of cucurbitacins can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, and in extreme cases, death.
While cucurbitacin poisoning can be fatal, commercially-grown zucchinis, squash, and gourds are low in cucurbitacins.
Take extra caution when eating wild zucchinis as it’s likely to contain higher levels of these compounds.
Another documented side effect of eating raw zucchini is bloating. Bloating happens when the healthy bacteria in your gut ferments the cellulose and soluble fiber in your diet.
The process produces gas as a by-product, which makes you feel bloated.
Additionally, as with eating any raw fruit or vegetable with its skin, there’s a potential risk of bacterial contamination and parasites.
To avoid the risks associated with food poisoning, wash and scrub the fruit or vegetable thoroughly with cold water.
To keep cut zucchini fresh, store them in the fridge.
Zucchini Skin: Should I Keep It On or Peel It?
It’s not essential to peel zucchinis before cooking or eating. You can eat zucchini with the skin on or removed—whatever you prefer.
However, we suggest you eat your zucchinis with the skin intact because most of the nutrients are underneath the skin.
Peeling the skin will reduce the nutritional weight of the vegetable. So, you’re better off not peeling in the first place.
When cooking zucchini or preparing a meal with zucchini, use a lot of heat. Doing this will reduce this fruit’s high water content.
Don’t boil your zucchinis because this will make them mushy and lose their flavor.
Here are some of the best ways to eat zucchinis.
- Slice it and eat it raw
- Make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer as treating them as an alternative for traditional pasta and noodles, which are high in carbohydrates.
- Make sautéed zucchini by cooking in oil and butter.
- Stir-fry it by combining it with other vegetables such as carrots, mushrooms, and snap peas.
- Fry zucchinis in a light batter. Fried zucchinis are much healthier and nutritious than potato French fries.
Zucchini Skin Nutrition
Zucchini skin is a good source of nutrition and healthy roughage.
But there is a caveat. As zucchini falls in the thin-skinned vegetables, the skin is highly prone to pesticide contamination.
Unless it’s organic or bought from the farmer’s market, the skin tends to have a high concentration of pesticides.
It is highly recommended you refrain from consuming zucchini or zucchini skin raw unless it’s well-washed.
If you decide to eat zucchini skin raw, first scrub your zucchini with a clean scrub brush.
Keep this scrub brush separate and make sure it is only used for cleaning food and isn’t being used with other poisonous cleaners.
Scrubbing and washing your zucchini correctly will remove the chemicals, bacteria, and other contaminants.
If you’re overly sensitive or allergic to pesticides, peel the zucchini to be on the safe side.
Raw Zucchini Nutrition
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that a single cup of raw diced or chopped zucchini with skin contains 107 grams of water and 21 calories.
This means that 95% of this fruit’s weight is essentially water. Interestingly, most of this water is held in the fruit’s flesh.
The skin, on the other hand, is a concentrated source of nutrition.
Here’s the breakdown of nutrients found in 1-cup of raw zucchini serving:
- 37% of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C
- 1 gram of dietary fiber
- 10% of the daily recommended dose Vitamin B6
- 10% of the daily recommended dose of potassium
- 1.5 grams of protein
- 20 grams of calcium
- 22 grams of magnesium
- 248 grams of vitamin A
- 10 grams of sodium
How To Tell Whether A Zucchini Is Waxed
Zucchini skin is edible, but if it’s waxed, don’t eat the skin without washing the wax off thoroughly first.
If it is not waxed, the skin is typically safe for consumption. Like most commercially-grown fruits and vegetables, zucchinis are waxed to extend their shelf life.
If you buy fruits and vegetables from supermarkets and grocery stores and supermarkets, you’ll likely find waxed zucchini and squash.
Zucchinis bought from local farmers’ markets or organically-grown zucchinis aren’t often waxed.
So how can you figure whether the zucchinis you bought are waxed or not? It’s easy: Just run your finger over the skin, and you’ll feel the waxy coating.
Awesome Raw Zucchini/Zucchini with Skin Recipes
There are plenty of folks out there who enjoy eating their zucchinis raw or with their skin on.
Apart from eating raw vegetables for nutrition reasons, many people crave the texture and flavor of raw zucchini.
One great way to enjoy eating raw zucchini is by making a refreshing Greek Zucchini Salad.
If you never tried zucchini before, cooked or raw, this is a great recipe to try. Making zucchini salad is easy.
Just mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:
- freshly diced zucchini
- Kalamata olives
- feta cheese
- red onions or shallot
- olive oil
- fresh lemon juice
If you like your raw zucchinis in shredded form, Zucchini & Arugula Salad is another great recipe.
For folks wanting cooked zucchinis, some of our favorites are Zucchini Fritters, Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats, and Zucchini Noodle White Lasagna.
The bottom line is Commercial raw zucchini is safe, delicious, and healthy.
You can eat raw zucchini skin or raw zucchini, and it is generally safe.
However, zucchinis can taste too bitter in some instances, indicating that it’s high in toxic cucurbitacins.
If you buy your zucchinis and other produce from the produce section of Walmart or any other supermarket, cucurbitacin poisoning is highly unlikely.
Yet, if you bite a zucchini and it doesn’t taste very pleasant or extremely bitter, throw it away immediately.