Zucchini is a refreshing and hydrating vegetable to enjoy in the summer. In addition, the veggie is packed with several vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols (aka, compounds that act as antioxidants). However, depending on how you are eating zucchini, you could experience a not-so-fun side effect.
If you like eating zucchini raw, you may not want to put on your most form-fitting pair of pants afterward. The vegetable contains a nutrient called cellulose, a structural component of plant cell walls (makes the veggie firm), and a type of insoluble fiber. Cellulose resides in all parts of the zucchini and is what makes it stiff and harder to chew than other vegetables. While this may not seem like a big deal, for some, the bloating that raw zucchini causes can be quite painful.
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For those who have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), too much insoluble fiber can cause discomfort in the GI tract, such as gas and bloating. As Chelsea McCallum, RD, and IBS nutritionist told Eat This, Not That! in a recent article about bloating, “Anyone can experience bloating, however, it’s more common that individuals who have GI issues such as IBS will face extreme cases of bloating, especially after eating specific ‘trigger’ foods.”
Wait, so does this mean you can’t eat zoodles? Well, if you find that zucchini is a food that triggers GI discomfort for you then definitely avoid eating it as much as possible—at least, raw. When you consume raw zucchini, the bacteria in your gut feasts on the cellulose and, in addition to enzymes, help to break it down. However, as the bacteria feed on the cellulose, they release methane gas which is what can then cause you to experience bloating or gas buildup.
However, keep in mind that heat weakens complex cellulose bonds. So, if you cook your zoodles, you should have a much better time digesting the veggie.
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