Is Butternut Squash Good for You?

Once referred to as "the apple of God", the butternut squash is yet another member of the cucurbitaceae family which includes fruits like melons and gourds. It is commonly found in the Western Hemisphere with Mexico being its probable country of origin. This legendary fruit was celebrated by the American Indians as a symbol of fertility.

Since its taste is similar to that of pumpkin, it has come to be known in Australia as the “butternut pumpkin”. Its sweet, nutty taste makes it an ideal substitute for pumpkin in various foods.

Is Butternut Squash Good for You?

With a myriad of health benefits and long shelf life, butternut squash works wonders for health. It is a rich source of vitamin A (beta carotene), protein, beneficial fats and zinc. Being loaded with nutrients and yet having a low calorie count, it can be used as an excellent snack. It goes without saying that Nature was too generous while bestowing butternut squash with its miraculous properties.

Nutrition and Benefits of Butternut Squash

Is butternut squash good for you? Yes, the components within butternut squash provide various benefits for your body.

1.      Carotenoids

Butternut squash is one of the opulent sources of four major variants of vitamin A, namely alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Alpha and beta carotenes are converted by the body into retinol, the active form of vitamin A which is imperative for good vision and skin health.

Retina, the innermost layer of the eye, contains only two carotenoids- lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids have remarkable anti-oxidant potential and prevent age-related retinal disorders, particularly cataracts and macular degeneration. A single serving of butternut squash adequately fulfills the recommended daily amounts of vitamin A in both men and women, greatly enhancing the visual health.

2.      Antioxidants

Anti-oxidants are the chemicals that counteract the oxidative stress caused by free radicals and ultraviolet radiation, thereby preventing inflammation. Butternut squash is a rich source of various powerful anti-oxidants. Manganese present within it shields the cell components from oxidative damage.

Vitamin E within butternut squash protects the lipid structures of the cells from oxidative stress. Vitamin C neutralizes various harmful free radicals. One cup of cubed butternut squash fulfills 32% of the daily requirements of vitamin C in men and 39% in women, 13% of the required dose of vitamin E and 17% of manganese. Its wondrous benefits dispel any lingering doubts that might make you question: is butternut squash good for you or not. 

3.      Fiber

Both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers are present in butternut squash. Insoluble fibers serve to add bulk to digested food, improving the bowel movements. Soluble ones delay the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing a steep rise of the blood sugar level immediately after meals. Soluble fibers also help lower the cholesterol levels of the body. One cup of cubed butternut squash is enough to get 8% of the required daily intake in men and 12% in women.

4.      Electrolytes

Electrolytes are the minerals that are imperative for the electrical activity in muscles and nerves. They also regulate the fluid balance of the cells. Three of the most essential electrolytes obtained from butternut squash include potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Potassium regulates heart functions besides controlling the muscle contractility. Magnesium inhibits while calcium stimulates the contraction of the heart muscles. One cup of cubed butternut squash helps meet 10% of the required daily amount of potassium, 11% of magnesium and 7% of calcium.

5.      Low Calories

Is butternut squash good for you? Yes, despite its rich nutrient content, butternut squash has a low calorie count with one cup of butternut squash yielding about 75 calories of energy. It is due to this reason that butternut squash is an ideal food for people trying to lose weight but find it cumbersome to pay heed to the calorie count of each food morsel they put in their mouths. Replacing high carbohydrate foods with butternut squash in diet can help lose weight fast.

How to Incorporate Butternut Squash into Your Diet

Best butternut squashes are heavy as compared to their size and have an even skin. The storage time of butternut squash is quite long. A number of ingredients like cinnamon, maple syrup, vinegar and paprika etc. can be used to enhance its taste. Here are some effortless ways to include butternut squash in your diet.

  • Bake the squashes; cut them in half, add sugar, vanilla extract, and toasted pecans to them and serve.
  • Make the squashes into a soup along with other regularly used vegetables.
  • Mash the butternut squashes to a pulp and enjoy.
  • You can also substitute butternut squashes for pumpkins in various recipes.
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