Can You Eat Zucchini Raw?

You can eat zucchini raw—but toss any squash with a bitter taste. Here's the science we uncovered.

This garden staple is such a versatile vegetable. It’s delicious grilled, sauteed, baked or spiralized. You don’t have to cook zucchini, though. You can eat zucchini raw! (If you do want to cook it though, these zucchini dinner recipes are a great place to start.)

Here are some tips to keep in mind when enjoying your overflowing garden bounty.

Can You Eat Raw Zucchini?

Yes, it’s safe to eat zucchini raw. Just gently wash your zucchini first, then slice it up and enjoy.

Just like with any food, there are potential side effects to eating a lot of it. Consuming a large amount of raw zucchini may lead to bloating. This is a side effect of eating foods with cellulose, part of the plant cell walls. Zucchini is also rich in fiber, which can cause bloating as well. If you notice that you’re having stomach discomfort after eating raw zucchini, cut back on the portion sizes to see if you feel better.

It’s also possible for any raw fruit or vegetable to be contaminated with bacteria or parasites. And raw zucchini contains cucurbitacins, a kind of compound found in both summer squash and winter squash. When eaten in high amounts, cucurbitacins can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Cucurbitacins cause a bitter taste. Fortunately, most varieties of store-bought zucchini are not high in cucurbitacins. But if you bite into a piece of raw zucchini and it tastes bitter, spit it out and discard the zucchini.

Is Raw Zucchini Good for You?

Yes, raw zucchini is a healthy choice. It’s rich in vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants. It also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. This is great for gut health and can help to prevent constipation. Zucchini is naturally low in calories and fat as well.

How to Eat Raw Zucchini

Raw zucchini can quickly become an easy side dish or snack. Cut it into slices and dip it in hummus, guacamole or ranch dressing. Try adding chopped or shredded zucchini to your salad for a nice crunch.

When buying zucchini, look for shiny skin that is free of nicks or cuts. Make sure the zucchini doesn’t have any areas of bruising or discoloration. Zucchini should feel firm without any soft spots. When you’re ready to eat, wash your snack with cold water and a soft vegetable brush. Then whip up a raw zucchini salad!

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.