Carbohydrate Information for Zucchini

Perfect for Low-Carb Diets

Woman buying veggies in a supermarket. Zucchini
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Reducing carbohydrates has been the focus of recent weight loss and health plans, and with good reason. While they aren't all bad, many Americans eat too many carbs—and the wrong ones. Carbs generally fall into one of three main categories: sugar, starch, or fiber. Fiber and starch are complex carbs made of numerous units of sugar bonded together. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes fall into these two categories. Sugar, on the other hand, is a simple carbohydrate. It occurs naturally in fruit and milk, but can also be added to foods in the form of sucrose.

Your Daily Intake of Carbohydrates

The Food and Drug Administration recommends that carbs comprise between 45 and 65 percent of total daily calorie intake. However, the trick to incorporating carbs into a healthy diet is knowing which to choose and which to avoid. The key to losing weight and improving health using a low-carb approach is to limit your intake of foods containing added sugars as well as refined grains, such as sugary drinks and desserts. These foods are loaded with calories but have very little nutritional benefit.

Fruits and Vegetables

While low-carb diets often restrict consumption of fruits and vegetables, there is no evidence that these types of carbs lead to weight gain or any of the health risks associated with obesity. In fact, often fruits and vegetables are helpful in losing or maintaining weight since their fiber content helps you feel full.

Among fruits and vegetables, some stand out for their optimal nutritional benefits. The carbohydrates in zucchini, a mild vegetable that can go into a lot of different meals, are the beneficial type that does not contribute to weight gain and can actually help you lose weight. In addition, zucchini is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and manganese, as well as a smattering of a lot of other nutrients.

Zucchini is an extremely versatile ingredient that can take on the flavors of whatever dish you are creating. Cut into strips (use a vegetable peeler to make it easy), it can substitute for pasta (or, even better, see this recipe for zucchini pasta). It is easy to grow, and although it is a summer vegetable, it is usually readily available year round.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts

  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini: 1.5 gram effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber and 10 calories
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 7 oz): 5 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 2 grams fiber and 31 calories
  • 4 oz zucchini (1/4 lb.): 3 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber and 18 calories

Glycemic Index

As with most non-starchy vegetables, there is no scientific study of the glycemic index of zucchini.

Estimated Glycemic Load

  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini: 1
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 7 oz): 3
  • 4 oz zucchini (1/4 lb.): 2

Low-Carb Recipes with Zucchini

Substitute for pasta as described above, or make this warm and satisfying zucchini casserole, try this Mediterranean-inspired dish with summer vegetables, or learn how you can use zucchini to make low-carb nachos.

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Article Sources
  • Leroux, MarcusFoster-Powell, Kaye, Holt, Susanna and Brand-Miller, Janette. "International Table of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 76, No. 1, 5-56, (2002).

  • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20.