Simple facts on the benefits of winter squash

October 9, 2015

The Halloween jack-o'-lantern and its orange-fleshed relatives — acorn and butternut squash — are colourful and delicious vegetables that may help to prevent acne, heart disease, macular degeneration and weight gain. Here are the goods on these delectable gourds.

Simple facts on the benefits of winter squash

What's in it and what illnesses it fights

  • Beta-carotene: Pumpkin and butternut squash supply extraordinary amounts of this nourishing orange-yellow pigment, which may help to prevent acne, cancer and macular degeneration. A 250 gram (one cup) serving of cooked butternut has 8.5 milligrams of beta-carotene; pumpkin has 7.8 milligrams.
  • Fibre: Squash contains appreciable amounts of soluble fibre, which helps to lower harmful LDL cholesterol. Insoluble fibre in squash helps to make you feel full and relieves constipation.Lutein: Pumpkin is a particularly significant source of this caroten­oid, which may stave off macular degeneration and possibly help prevent cataracts and colon cancer.
  • Magnesium: Acorn and butternut squash are good sources of this vital mineral, which may be beneficial for allergies, asthma, cardiovascular health, high blood pressure, kidney stones and premenstrual syndrome.
  • Potassium: A diet high in this mineral may help to lower the risk for high blood pressure, kidney stones and stroke. Acorn and butternut squash supply generous amounts of potassium.
  • Thiamin: A serving of acorn squash (250 grams/one cup cooked) contributes very good amounts of this necessary brain-boosting B vitamin, which may help to improve memory and mood.
  • Vitamin B6: Acorn squash supplies an impressive quantity of this essential B vitamin, which is linked to a reduced risk for heart disease and possibly depression. A cooked 250 gram (one cup) serving has 0.4 milligrams. B vitamins will be lost if the squash is cooked in water.
  • Vitamin C: This powerful antioxidant may prevent cataracts and chronic disease. Butternut is the best winter squash source of vitamin C, with just 250 grams (one cup) providing 31 milligrams.

Interesting ways to add some squash in your diet

  • Add peeled and diced butternut squash to chili, soups or stews.
  • Buy frozen pureed winter squash, thin it with milk, and serve as a soup.
  • Add peeled, shredded squash to pancake batter.
  • Use pumpkin or squash puree in a cheesecake.
  • Combine cooked, pureed butternut squash with grated Parmesan cheese and herbs, and use as a sauce for pasta.
  • Stir cooked squash into sweet or savoury rice or grain dishes.
  • Make a squash chutney. Cook chunks of squash with sugar, raisins, red pepper and spices until tender. Serve alongside meat, fish or poultry.

Squash and pumpkins are loaded with nutrients that are kept right through the cooking process making it a healthy choice to add to any recipe in the kitchen.

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