Friday, September 21, 2012

Health Benefits of Squash Fall 2012

It is now near the end of September and the weather is starting to get cooler (sort of), and Autumn is in full force. Bringing to mind the smells of pumpkin pies, baked butternut squash, and yummy casseroles cooking in the kitchen. Delightfully delicious!

As we start preparing our menus with more seasonal fair, I wanted to focus on the many health benefits these little (and sometimes big) beauties provide!

'Winter squash, members of the Cucurbitaceae family and relatives of both the melon and the cucumber, come in many different varieties. While each type varies in shape, size, color, and flavor, they all share some common characteristics. Their shells are hard and difficult to pierce, enabling them to have long storage periods between one week and six months. Their flesh is mildly sweet in flavor and finely grained in texture. Additionally, all have seed containing hollow inner cavities.

We are just beginning to discover the wealth of nourishment provided by the mildly sweet flavored and finely textured winter squash, A vegetable that was once such an important part of the diet of the Native American's that they were buried it along with the dead to provide nourishment on their final journey. Winter squash is available from August through March; however, they are at their best from October to November when they are in season.'

         - - - THE AMAZING NUTRIENTS IN SQUASH - - - -

Nutrients in
Winter Squash
1.00 cup baked (205.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value

vitamin A214.1%

vitamin C32.8%



vitamin B616.5%


vitamin K11.2%




vitamin B28.2%

omega-3 fats7.9%


Calories (75)4%

*High in VITAMIN A:

Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin. It is also known as retinol because it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye.

Vitamin A promotes good vision, especially in low light. It may also be needed for reproduction and breast-feeding.

Carotenoids are dark-colored dyes (pigments) found in plant foods that can turn into a form of vitamin A. There are more than 500 known carotenoids. One such carotenoid is beta-carotene.

  • Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals are believed to contribute to certain chronic diseases and play a role in the aging processes.
  • Food sources of carotenoids such as beta-carotene may reduce the risk for cancer.
  • Beta-carotene supplements do not seem to reduce cancer risk.

*High in VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals (which promote aging) are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. 

Vitamin C is important for your skin, bones, and connective tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron!

*High in FIBER

Fiber is a substance in plants. Dietary fiber is the kind you eat. It is in fruits, vegetables and grains. It is the part of the plant that your body can't digest. Yet it is an important part of a healthy diet. It adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel full faster, helping you control your weight. Fiber helps digestion and helps prevent constipation.

You can get fiber from whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. You should add fiber to your diet slowly. Increasing dietary fiber too quickly can lead to gas, bloating and cramps.


So, go ahead, start baking and cooking those delicious squash recipes and making your kitchen smell like Fall! 

~ Peace and Love ~

and Squash!

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