Butternut squash, a sort of “kissing cousin” to cucumbers and melons, is a cream-colored vegetable with a deep orange flesh, shaped roughly like a bell. It was only introduced to America in 1944, but since then has become prized for its delicious flavor as well as its health benefits, including those listed below.
1. You Will Load Up on Carotenoids
Say what?! Carotenoids are important antioxidants that come in many forms. When you load your plate up with butternut squash, you will be taking in four different kinds of antioxidants: alpha carotene, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The first two will be converted to vitamin A by your body, and the second two will be taken up by your eyes to promote good vision and avoid serious diseases like cataracts.
2. You Will Get Plenty of Fiber
Butternut squash is great because it contains soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which are very healthy for your body. Insoluble fiber helps to cleanse the digestive tract and bulks up stool to make constipation less likely. Soluble fiber is also important because it helps the body maintain steady blood sugar levels by breaking down carbohydrates more slowly. Because of this important quality, squashes and other high-fiber veggies are considered to be good for a diabetic diet.
3. You Will Load up on Electrolytes as Well
Electrolytes don’t just come from sports drinks. You can also replace them with food as well. Butternut squash is rich in three of the most important electrolytes: potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Among their many other tasks, electrolytes help to keep the balance of fluids in the body, as well as helping keep muscles and nerves healthy. In one serving of butternut squash, you will get 10% of your potassium, 11% of your magnesium, and 6% of your calcium for the day.
4. You Will be Getting Lots of Vitamin C
Even people who don’t know a lot about nutrition know how healthy vitamin C is for your body. It is an antioxidant, which means that it reduces oxidative stress on the cells and can even help to slow down the aging process. Antioxidants also decrease the chance of cell mutations that can eventually lead to cancer. A single serving of butternut squash will give you between 32 and 39% of all the vitamin C you need for the day.
5. You Will Be Getting a Healthy Snack
Not only can you feast upon the squash itself, you can also remove the seeds and roast them for a delicious and incredibly healthy snack. Butternut squash seeds are not only high in protein and fiber, they also contain compounds like oleic acid, which can be found in olive oil, and has been proven to be very heart-healthy.
6. You Will Get Lots of B-Vitamins Too
B-vitamins are also incredibly important for your health, especially the health of your central nervous system. Loading up on squash can help keep your B-vitamin levels in a healthy range, providing you with 19% of B6, 11% of B2, and 6% of B3 for the day.
7. You Will Reduce Inflammation Throughout Your Body
Why does butternut squash help to reduce inflammation? Because it is rich in several different compounds that have been proven to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds include vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids (like the kind found in tuna or salmon), and compounds called cucurbitacins, which have potential anti-cancer benefits as well.
8. You Will Lose Weight
Butternut squash is considered to be a high-quality food because it gives you a ton of nutrients for only a few calories. These nutrient-dense foods can help satisfy your hunger, making it easier to avoid overeating and thus achieve your weight loss goals. The good news is that this squash is incredibly versatile. It can be made into dozens of simple, healthy, and delicious recipes.
The next time you are in the produce aisle, pick up some butternut squashes and bring them home for dinner. You will not only get a great-tasting meal that your whole family will love, but also all of the important health benefits mentioned here.
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