Don’t Miss Out On This Healthy Superfood

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137587380Here’s a vegetable that’s got a great taste, is easy to digest, and could help protect both your vision and your immune function. Butternut squash is extremely healthy and it will be appearing in your local grocery store fresh from farmers’ fields in the next few weeks.

Butternut squash is part of a family of vegetables that includes pumpkins and melons—both of which, by the way, can also protect your eyesight. Butternut squash is an excellent way to add vitamin A to your diet. Eating just one cup of this squash will net well over your recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin A.

Butternut squash is also high in two of the most important antioxidant vitamins: C and E. You can get almost half your daily requirement of vitamin C in a cup of the squash and about 15% of the RDI for vitamin E.

What other nutrients do you get when you eat butternut squash? Included in the list are thiamine, niacin, and folate—three crucial B vitamins. You’ll also get more potassium per serving than you would when eating a banana. Butternut squash will also boost your levels of manganese and magnesium, respectively.

One more nutrient needs to be mentioned and that is fiber. Butternut squash can aid your digestive tract in its daily job of absorbing nutrients and discarding wastes.

Butternut squash is a great addition to the diet of anyone trying to watch their caloric intake.  Butternut squash contains no fat, is low in calories, and yet can still make you feel “full,” diminishing cravings for other high-calorie foods.

When it comes to specific health benefits, the carotenoids in butternut squash could play a significant role in protecting your vision. Butternut squash is high in beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. The squash also contains excellent quantities of lutein and zeaxanthin—two superstars in protecting the eyes from the damages wrought by free radicals.

Other potential health benefits include helping to reduce inflammation and controlling blood sugar levels, which make this vegetable a good choice for those struggling with type 2 diabetes. There have been preliminary studies that suggest butternut squash could play a role in disrupting the mechanisms that lead to the onset of cancer.

Many people miss out on all the wonderful, health-boosting nutrients that butternut squash has to offer because they think it’s too difficult to prepare squash. However, it’s easy to bake a squash. Just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and pop it into the oven until the flesh of the squash is soft. Alternately, you can pierce the whole squash with a fork and put it in the oven (on a baking sheet to catch any juices). Once cooked, you can then scoop out the seeds and eat.

Some people prefer to add a little healthy oil when baking or for a sweet treat, a teaspoon of maple syrup in each half of the cut squash.

Uncooked butternut squash lasts a long time when stored in a cool, dry place—up to six months. Cooked squash should be eaten within a week.

Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Nordvik-Carr, W., “Video: Empowered Health – Eating squash aids weight loss and diabetes,” Vancouver Sun web site, May 9, 2013; http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/Health/Empowered-Health/Video+Empowered+Health+Eating+squash+aids+weight/8229817/story.html?rel=5959010, last accessed August 21, 2013.
Yamaguchi, A., et al., “Antioxidative activity of water soluble polysaccharide in pumpkin fruits (Cucurbita maxima Duchesne),” Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. June 2009; 73(6): 1,416-8.
Nair, M.G., et al., “Anticancer and antiinflammatory activities of cucurbitacins from Cucurbita andreana,” Cancer Lett. January 2003; 189(1): 11-16.
Yukui, R., et al., “Effects of protein-bound polysaccharide isolated from pumpkin on insulin in diabetic rats,” Plant Foods Hum Nutr. March, 2005; 60(1): 13-16. 

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