Butternut squash, a type of winter squash and a relative of the pumpkin, is known for its vibrant, yellow-orange hue. It has a sweet, nutty flavor that makes it an interesting addition to most meals. Although commonly thought of as a vegetable, butternut squash is actually classified as a fruit since it contains seeds. This tasty fruit is full of nutritious compounds and is easy to incorporate into your diet due to its versatility. Read on to learn about butternut squash health benefits and how they can assist you in leading a healthier lifestyle.
Butternut Squash Health Benefits
Butternut squash health benefits are numerous and impressive. With a host of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, this brightly colored fruit is capable of fighting a variety of disease and health conditions.
Its high amount of fiber helps encourage the digestive system to run smoothly and also benefits the cardiovascular system. Adequate fiber intake is also capable of significantly reducing the risk of colon cancer. Butternut squash health benefits also include the ability to increase your chance of weight loss and reduce the risk of other types of cancers.
Prevents Heart and Kidney Issues
Butternut squash also boasts high amounts of potassium, a mineral that has a wide range of benefits including assisting the body in preventing strokes and heart and kidney issues. Potassium also plays a role in bone health, regulating blood sugar, water levels, and metabolism.
Butternut’s gorgeous shade of deep yellow is a result of the massive amounts of carotenoids – powerful fat-soluble antioxidants with numerous health benefits – it contains. The carotenoid beta-carotene is found in particularly high levels in squash. Beta-carotene, which your body converts to a form of Vitamin A, is proven to protect heart health and also shown to protect against heart disease and breast cancer. This powerful antioxidant also promotes eye health, skin health, and proper lung development in babies.
Boosts Immune and Nervous System
This colorful fruit also contains ample amounts of Vitamin B6. This vitamin is necessary for immune and nervous system support. The folate found in butternut squash contributes to heart health and prevents against birth defects in women of childbearing age. It can also lower your risk of becoming ill with a cold or flu due to its high content of Vitamin C – a known immune booster.
Butternut squash’s high antioxidant content also exhibits anti-inflammatory effects in the body and also helps fight free radicals. Abundant levels of antioxidants can reduce the risk of developing disorders linked to inflammation such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.
Nutritional Value of Butternut Squash
Butternut squash boasts an impression list of nutrition facts. It is full of healthy carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and low in fat. Below is an overview, listed in order of prevalence, of the powerful vitamins and minerals contained in butternut squash.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
Nutritional Value of Butternut Squash Seeds
In addition to the healthy yellowish-orange interior, butternut squash seeds are also packed with nutrition. The white, oval-shaped seeds contain extra doses of nutrients already found in the flesh along with additional vitamins and minerals including:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Pantothenic Acid
Butternut Squash Uses
Butternut squash makes a delicious side dish or addition to soup and stews. It can also be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes or in recipes that call for pumpkin.
This colorful squash can be cooked in a variety of ways including roasted in the oven on a baking sheet, steamed upside down in the oven with a bit of water, microwaved, boiled, or cooked whole in a crock pot. In addition, the seeds can be roasted on a baking sheet in the oven.
Squash can be easily found in most grocery stores at an affordable price. It is also easy to grow in your own garden if desired. In this section, we provide a few healthy butternut squash recipes.
As mentioned above, butternut squash seeds are packed with nutrition. They make a healthier alternative to chips and crackers if you are craving something crunchy and salty. To make roasted butternut squash seeds:
- Line an oven dish with parchment paper
- Place clean squash seeds in a single layer on the baking sheet
- Bake at around 275 to 300 degrees, turning after 10 minutes
- Continue doing this for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the seeds are crunchy
Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasting butternut squash is an easy, effective way to maximize its flavor. It makes a filling, simple side dish that goes especially well with autumn meals. To make:
- Carefully peel the squash, remove the seeds, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- Toss the cubes with your desired seasoning, such as olive oil, salt, and pepper or butter and cinnamon
- Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until soft and lightly browned
Steamed Butternut Squash
Steaming butternut squash is one of the easiest ways to prepare it. This method results in a moist, smooth, creamy texture. To make:
- Carefully cut a squash in half lengthwise
- Remove seeds
- Place the cut side down in a baking dish filled with about an inch of water
- Bake at around 400 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes until the flesh is tender
To reap butternut squash health benefits, consider incorporating this fruit into your diet on a regular basis. This delicious squash will boost your Vitamin A and Vitamin C levels as well as your overall health.