Although I love summer, its warm and sunny and fresh produce is everywhere, I am also a big fan of fall and fall flavors. Although fall may be very different for me this year, as we recently moved to Florida, but I still plan to take advantage of the yummy fall vegetables!
Although there are many different kinds of squash, with each of their colorful variations containing a multitude of powerful nutrients, one of my favorites is butternut squash. Nothing is better than a warm bowl of creamy butternut squash soup on a cool fall day! Yummy! Colorful fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants and butternut squash is no exception. We are exposed to free radicals in the environment through the sun, exposure to chemicals, as well as by eating processed foods. However, free radicals are also created as a biproduct of many bodily functions. These free radicals cause oxidative stress and wreak havoc on the body if not kept in check. Antioxidants are crucial to helping our body fight off these damaging free radicals. Therefore, eating a balanced diet, including foods rich in antioxidants, like butternut squash is incredibly beneficial to our health.
Butternut squash is particularly high in carotenoids, which is a type of antioxidant. These nutrients are fat-soluble, which means that they more highly absorbable when consumed with fat – so be sure your butternut squash recipes include some good fat, like extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. Butternut squash is also a great source of Vitamin A, which is sourced from beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, all of which are naturally anti-inflammatory and have been linked to the prevention of some cancers.
Vitamin A/beta carotene are also powerful immune boosters. Vitamin A naturally reduces inflammation in the body, which is one of the root causes of many chronic diseases. Inflammation is generally caused by an overactive immune response, that in some cases attacks the body itself. By keeping the immune system in check and balanced, it allows the body to more easily fend off viruses and other illnesses.
Butternut squash is also rich in Vitamin C – another big immune booster!
It is also a good source of several key minerals, such as potassium and manganese, which are crucial for bone health, especially as we get older and for postmenopausal women to prevent osteoporosis. Potassium is also important for nerve function, fluid balance, as well as preventing muscle cramping. There is also some limited research to suggest that eating foods that are rich in both potassium and manganese may help with weight loss. Further, it’s high fiber content may also aid with weight loss, as well as modulate blood sugar levels.
And if all that is not enough to make you want to go and get some butternut squash….it is also DELICIOUS!!!!
Check out the below recipes for how to incorporate butternut squash into your diet: