The Benefits of Butternut Squash

It’s that time of year where we are winding down the garden and farmer’s market. However, nature offers us one of the best vegetables for last...

Butternut Squash!

Butternut squash has many health benefits. Medical News Today points out the following great benefits!

  • One cup of butternut squash provides a whopping 437% percent of your vitamin A needs for the day, as well as 52% of vitamin C and 10% or more of vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and manganese.
  • Butternut squash is an excellent source of potassium, bringing in 582 milligrams per 1 cup (cubed) - more than a banana!
  • The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of beta-carotene, the antioxidant that gives certain fruits and vegetables their bright orange pigments. Look for other orange plant foods like papaya, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, pumpkin and carrots to increase your beta-carotene intake.
  • Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
  • Among younger men, diets rich in beta-carotene may play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition.
  • Butternut squash is also great for your skin because it of its extremely high vitamin A content, which is needed for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A plays an important role in the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
  • As an added bonus, one serving of butternut squash provides over 50% of the required vitamin C intake for the day, which is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen that provides structure to skin and hair.
  • Maintaining a high fiber diet helps to prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.
  • Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may even decrease inflammation and improve immune function, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Increased fiber intakes have also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

Look for butternut squash that are heavy for their size and have a hard, smooth rind free of blemishes. Because of their thick skin, butternut squash can be stored for long periods and do not need refrigeration. Butternut squash pairs well with a diverse range of flavors including cinnamon, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika.

Baking Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  1.  Place squash, cut sides down, in a 9x13 baking dish. Pour water into dish around squash halves.

  2.  Bake in the preheated oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 1 1/2 hours. Carefully remove the skin with a fork; it should be very easy to remove.

Quick tips:

  • This hardy squash can be kept for up to three months in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate
  • Cut in half, fill a add vanilla extract, and toasted pecans to baked squash
  • Add butternut squash to your favorite vegetable soup
  • Serve mashed as a substitute for mashed potatoes
  • Use as a substitute in any recipe that calls for pureed or canned pumpkin.
  • Add pureed squash to applesauce to increase the nutritional content of applesauce. (My children don’t like plain squash but love this combo and ask for it repeatedly).

 

Steven Zahn

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