The health benefits of butternut squash include preventing constipation, improving eyesight, keeping the bones strong, protecting the skin, boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, managing diabetes, supporting good lung health, etc.
Butternut squash (Scientific name: Cucurbita moschata) is otherwise known as gramma or butternut pumpkin in New Zealand and Australia. It is kind of “winter squash”, which has a nutty and sweet flavor similar to a pumpkin. The skin of butternut squash is yellow while the inner flesh is orange and pulpy. Once it is ripe, the orange flesh turns even deeper and is richer as well as sweeter in taste.
Even though butternut squash is a fruit, it is often used as a vegetable while cooking. It can be toasted, roasted, mashed, and pureed.
Nutritional Value Of Butternut Squash
The nutritional value of butternut squash is extremely amazing. It has all the essential compounds as well as nutrients to keep a human fit and healthy. Butternut squash is fortified with Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, E, folate, beta-carotene, fiber, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, iron, manganese, potassium, and magnesium.
10 Best Health Benefits Of Butternut Squash
1. Good For Eyes & Skin
One of the best health benefits of butternut squash is the ability to keep both eyes and skin healthy. One might perceive vitamin A as a solitary nutrient; however, the term signifies two different types of substances: carotenoids and retinoids.
Butternut squash is the best source of four types of carotenoids: α-carotene, β-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. The body transforms α and β carotene to retinol, a kind of vitamin A required for maintaining healthy eyes and glowing skin.
Zeaxanthin and lutein are the only types of carotenoids in the retina, which work as antioxidants, preventing age-related issues like macular degeneration and cataracts. The recommended everyday vitamin An intake for men is 3000 IU (International Units) while 2333 IU for women. Just a cup of butternut squash pieces exceeds the daily dosage with 14,882 IU.
It has more than 350% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), which is very vital for maintaining healthy eyesight. Zeaxanthin and lutein, the two strong antioxidants assist in protecting the vision.
2. Prevents Constipation
Butternut squash has soluble & insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber helps in adding bulk to the digested food, which then travels via the digestive tract and ensures that constipation is prevented. On the other hand, soluble fiber slows down the carbohydrates’ absorption and prevents increased blood sugar spikes after meals.
Also, soluble fiber lowers the cholesterol by taking it out of the body. A cup of butternut squash offers 3g of fiber. It makes about 8% of suggested consumption for men while 12% for women.
3. Stronger Bones
Butternut squash contains 17% of the recommended daily manganese dosage, helping the body to maintain a strong bone structure. Further, it absorbs calcium and improves the mineral mass of the spinal cord. The vitamin C in butternut squash takes care of the collagen production, which is significant for developing bone mass. The other essential minerals in squash like iron, zinc, folate, and other trace elements protect an individual against osteoporosis and contribute to durable bones.
4. Healthy Immune System
The squash health benefits are many while an important one being for the immune system. It has magnesium, vitamin C, and other essential antioxidant compounds to neutralize all the free radicals in the body. If you are unaware, free radicals are dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism.
They are associated with plenty of illnesses like cancer, premature aging, and heart diseases. However, squash has an abundance of vitamin A and other phytonutrients to boost the immune response. It defends against harmful free radicals and foreign substances produced by the body.
5. Balances The Muscles and Nerves
Electrolytes are none other than minerals, which break into molecules. They carry electrical charges via body fluids. They stimulate nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Electrolytes also help in controlling the fluid movement in & out of the cells to make sure the body sustains an appropriate balance.
You will be surprised to know that butternut squash provides three imperative electrolytes: magnesium, calcium, and potassium. The potassium starts the electrical impulses in the body, which in turn regulate the heartbeats and gets along with sodium for stimulating muscle contractions.
Magnesium relaxes the cardiovascular muscles, and calcium stimulates the contraction. A cup of butternut squash contains 10% of the suggested daily potassium dosage, 11% of the suggested daily magnesium dosage, and 7% of the suggested daily calcium dosage.
6. Prevents Inflammation & Chronic Disorders
Antioxidants in butternut squash help in neutralizing the free radicals; thus, preventing cellular damage, inflammation, and other chronic diseases. The manganese content specifically guards the cellular structure that produces energy.
Oil and water cannot mix. Hence, the body fat requires antioxidant shield from fat-soluble substances, and that is the exact job of vitamin E. It is an antioxidant and a fat-soluble vitamin, which protects the lipids and form healthy cell walls. On the other hand, vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin circulates throughout the body fluids and neutralizes most of the free radicals, even including the ones that damage skin cells.
A cup of freshly cut butternut squash contains 39% of the daily requirement of vitamin C for women and 32% for men. The vitamin E contributes about 13% of the everyday vitamin E value.
7. Reduced Risk Of Lung Cancer
A significant amount of vitamin A in butternut squash comes from its natural carotenoids called β-carotene. The carotenoids are transformed into retinoids — the organically active kind of vitamin A. Now, according to various studies, this β-carotene is often linked with a considerably reduced danger of lung cancers. Also, it lowers the risk of skin damage due to UV rays and breast cancers.
8. Deals With Type II Diabetes
One of the best health benefits of butternut squash is the potential to regulate better blood sugar levels and preventing the type II diabetes. Though there are many vital nutrients in butternut squash that help in regulating the insulin levels naturally, the credit is often given to vitamin-B’s compound called d-chiro-inositol.
The regulation of blood sugar level in the body is closely connected to the overall contribution of vitamin B-complex, which is abundantly found in squash. In fact, butternut squash offers a blend of six B-complex vitamins, which are Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Pyridoxine (B6), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), and folate (B9).
9. Better Cardiovascular Health
The potassium and magnesium in butternut squash together form a useful defensive layer against different cardiovascular problems. Potassium acts as a vasodilator, meaning, it relaxes the blood arteries and vessels. It ensures proper blood flow and reduces strain on the heart.
It enhances oxygenation of various body organs and improves their functionality. Also, the pectin in squash scrapes off all the surplus cholesterol from the arteries’ walls and lessens the risk of atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks. An added advantage of eating squash is that it neutralizes the homocysteine levels, which is yet another major reason for cardiovascular issues.
10. Protects From Neural Tube Defects
Butternut squash has vital amounts of folate, a vitamin that is greatly required during pregnancy. Folate or folic acid is essential for the growth of neural features in the baby. Often, deficiency in folate is reported to be the primary cause of most neural tube defects. So, adding butternut squash in the diet can do bog health wonders.
Side Effects Of Butternut Squash
Avoid butternut squash, if You are suffering from dermatitis. The compounds in butternut squash can irritate the skin more.
The above-listed health benefits of butternut squash are written after a good research. There are some more benefits of this vegetable too, but we have limited the article to top ten. If you wish to share some more benefits, feel free to drop them in the comments section.