How to get the most tasty nutrients from squash

Besides their unique taste, squashes are loaded with important vitamins and nutrients. Here's some reasons you should eat more squash, and tasty ways you can include them in your cooking.

How to get the most tasty nutrients from squash

Zucchini: the low calorie vitamin superstar

  • Summer squash, or zucchini, has a soft rind and tender flesh when eaten immaturely. Because it has a high water content, it has only 20 calories per single cup, raw.
  • A 250 millilitre (one cup) serving of raw summer squash provides about 15 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C.
  • The same amount also contains 25 micrograms of folate and small amounts of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
  • Intensely coloured squashes have more beta carotene than paler ones.

Add zucchini to almost any recipe

  • Summer squash can be eaten raw. If it's cooked, stir-frying or steaming minimizes nutrient loss and keeps the vegetable from becoming too mushy.
  • The mild flavour complements stews, soups and mixed vegetables, but squash can make some dishes watery.
  • To avoid this problem, lightly salt the squash pieces and place them on absorbent paper towels. Rinse the pieces before adding them to the recipe.

Winter squash is packed with important nutrients

  • Harvested when fully mature, winter squash has a hard shell and large seeds.
  • It's larger, darker in colouring and richer in nutrients than summer squash.
  • Winter squashes, such as acorn and butternut, are rich in beta carotene. The amount varies with the colour of the flesh.
  • A serving of 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of acorn squash contains almost 100 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. 250 millilitres (one cup) of light spaghetti squash provides less.
  • A serving of 300 to 500 millilitres (1¼ to 2 cups) of baked winter squash has at least 10 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, 450 milligrams of potassium and 40 calories.
  • Winter squash also has more than three grams of fibre per 300 to 500 millilitre (1¼ to 2 cup) serving.
  • The strings and seeds are high in insol­uble fibre, which helps prevent constipation.
  • The flesh contains soluble fibre, which lowers cholesterol.

You can use nearly every part of a winter squash

  • Winter squash can be stored for sev­­eral months in a cool, dark place.
  • Don't refrigerate it. Temperatures below 4°C (40°F) speed its deterioration.
  • Bake or steam winter squash. Boiling destroys vitamin C and other nutrients.
  • You can serve it stuffed and baked with herbs and a little butter or margarine.
  • Winter squash makes an excellent addition to breads, soups and stews.
  • It can also be substituted for pumpkin in pies.
  • The seeds are an excellent source of iron, potassium, zinc and other minerals. Try drying or baking them for a healthy snack.
  • The seeds also provide some protein, beta carotene and B vitamins.

Squash in all its forms is a tasty and versatile food that's packed with important vitamins and nutrients. Many of them are easy to prepare, but be sure to cook them so their healthy compounds can still be digested by your body.

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