7 Health Benefits Of Butternut Squash: Reasons To Dig Into This Vegetable
July 9, 2019
Butternut squash is low in calories and high in fiber, which prevent overeating and aid weight loss. Its antioxidant and vitamin E content prevent cancer and mental decline, while its low glycemic index manages blood sugar levels. Additionally, vitamin A in butternut squash strengthens immunity while magnesium in it prevents the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
A fall staple of most homes, the dense texture and flavor of butternut squash makes for hearty soups, casseroles, breads, stews, and desserts. They can also be enjoyed straight from the shell after cooking. Besides, butternut squashes, including their seeds, are nutritious as well. Here is a reckoner of the health benefits they provide.
1. May Aid In Weight Loss
If you’re on a diet, grab butternut squash on your next grocery run. One cup of the cooked vegetable has only 83 calories. It also provides 7 grams of fiber that’s both insoluble and soluble. And since the two take a while to pass through the digestive, they’ve been shown to reduce appetite, which can aid in controlling your caloric intake.
Besides helping you lose weight, studies have found that high fiber intake decreases the risk of obesity and keep the weight off over time. One such study found that women with the highest intake of fiber lost more weight than those who had the lowest, showing that fiber is important for long-term weight loss.
2. Prevents Mental Decline
Eating antioxidant-rich foods may prevent mental decline that comes with aging. One study has found that people associated with a carotenoid-rich diet had better memory recall, visual attention, and verbal fluency as they aged. In addition to this, one cup of butternut squash packs in vitamin E, offering 2.64 mg of the vitamin (17.6% RDA), which is linked to a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
3. May Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
Apart from being low in calories, butternut squash also has a low glycemic index and load, which refers to how quickly your blood sugar rises after consuming a certain food. 1/4th of a cup of butternut squash has a GI of 51, which is almost half of one sweet potato. It also contains polysaccharides, a type of indigestible fiber that, studies have found, can prevent blood sugar from rising after eating.
4. May Relieve The Symptoms Of Premenstrual Syndrome
If you tend to get riddled with pain during that time of the month, consuming butternut squash regularly may give you some relief. One cup of the vegetable packs in 59 mg of magnesium, which makes up for 19.01% of your recommended daily intake. And studies have found that keeping up with you magnesium intake may improve symptoms of PMS including mood swings and pain.
5. May Improve Exercise Performance
If you’re someone who yawns through most of your gym routine, add butternut squash to your diet. One Taiwanese study conducted on rats found that butternut squash was effective in decreasing fatigue and increasing exercise performance.
6. May Prevent Cancer
Butternut squash is packed with antioxidants which have been found to fight free-radical damage. And a protein called moschatin in the vegetable was found to inhibit the growth of melanoma (skin cancer) cells. In addition to this, a cup of butternut squash provides 31 mg of vitamin C (34.44% of your recommended intake) which may aid in the treatment of lung and ovarian cancers. It might also help chemotherapy drugs target cancer cells more effectively without damaging healthy cells,
7. Boosts Immune Health
The nutrients in butternut squash keep your immunity up and prevent you from catching that flu that’s been going around. One cup of butternut squash packs in 1144 mcg of vitamin A, which makes up for 127.11% of your recommended daily intake. Not consuming enough of this vitamin has been found to impair immunity by preventing normal regeneration of mucosal barriers that may have been damaged by infection. It also diminishes the function of neutrophils (white blood cells), macrophages, and natural killer cells. Keeping up with your intake will, hence, keep your immune system functioning well. Vitamin C in butternut squash also aids in immune function since phagocytes and t-cells, build up defense against certain pathogens, require the vitamin to work well.