Winter is coming. That means winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, and spaghetti squash) is in season. Butternut squash, also known as butternut pumpkin, is a healthy, hearty vegetable you can find throughout the cold winter months.
Winter squash is planted in summer, and harvested in the fall, but the hard skin helps it to store well during the cold, dark winter months. The big difference between a summer and winter squash is that a winter squash has a much harder, more protective skin. The butternut squash is one of the best squashes for storing, and will hold its flavour and nutrients throughout the winter. Just store it in a cool, dark space and it’ll last for months. Here’s a look at the many health benefits of butternut squash.
Butternut Squash Nutrition Profile
Butternut squash nutrition profile includes dietary fibre, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, and magnesium. This winter squash is a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, and is an excellent source of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is incredibly important for ocular health, and most of us are not getting enough of it! It is a fat-soluble vitamin that works as an antioxidant. It reduces the free radicals in the body, which then reduces inflammation. A lack of vitamin A can also lead to night blindness, and other eye diseases. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to increased risk of infection, and an overall weaker immune system.
For every 100g serving, there are 12g of carbohydrates, two of which are in the form of dietary fibre, and two grams in the form of sugar. This is relatively low, and makes this a good addition to a low-carb/low-sugar diet.
Another great thing about butternut squash nutrition is the ogema-3 to omega-6 ratios. While it doesn’t have staggeringly high levels of these healthy fatty acids, it does have higher levels of omega-3. This is amazing because most people are having an unhealthy balance of these two fats, with significantly more omega-6 than omega-3.
Butternut squash is rich in carotenoids that give it a yellow colour, but they also work as nutrients and antioxidants in the body. The carotenoids actually elevate as it is stored, showing that this vegetable still holds great nutritional value through the winter.
An interesting study from 2012 found that extract from butternut squash improves energy levels and lowers physical fatigue in mice. This hasn’t been tested in humans, but in mice, it proved to increase glycogen and blood glucose, and also decrease of lactate plasma levels, ammonia, and creatine kinase. It improved stamina, energy, strength, and grip. The extract seems to release glycogen to provide the body with energy, which is interesting considering the squash has low sugar levels itself. This may mean it could help you use, and burn, stored sugar (fat), which could prove to be beneficial for increased weight loss.
Butternut squash can be roasted, puréed into a soup, turned into veggie patties, or can even be used to make gluten-free flatbread. Really the uses of this harvest vegetable are pretty bountiful, which is just one more reason this is such a good food to have in your diet.