October, my favourite month. It’s a chance to indulge your inner child by crunching through fallen leaves on your walk to work and carving pumpkins for Halloween (interesting we have a particularly orangey sky in the UK today) somewhat of a tradition in my household. Now is also the time when I like to cook with another member of the winter squash family; butternut squash. This versatile veg has a sweet, nutty taste, and plenty of hidden nutritional advantages. Grab a bowl of butternut squash soup, snuggle in front of the fire, and read on for our Top 5 Health Benefits of Butternut Squash!
1. Boosted immunity
The solution to keeping winter colds at bay could lie in the said bowl of soup! Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is vitally important for your immune system. More specifically, butternut squash contains beta-carotene which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Some claim it may even help ward off cancer.
2. Sharp vision
There’s a certain truth to the phrase ‘carrots help you see in the dark’. Eating orange fruit and veg, including butternut squash, can keep your eyes healthy and vision sharp. This is once again due to the chemical compound, beta-carotene. For example, some research suggests it can prevent cataract formation and macular degeneration, which in extreme cases can lead to blindness.
3. Smooth, youthful skin
Butternut squash is a fantastic source of vitamin C; an antioxidant that plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis. Collagen is the protein responsible for giving your skin strength and elasticity. As you get older, your body becomes less efficient at producing collagen, so including more vitamin C-rich foods in your diet becomes ever more important.
4. Weight management
As the nights draw in, you might find yourself drawn to comfort food. This food tends to be stodgy and high in calories, so benefit by switching up your recipes to include more butternut squash, which is low in calories with a good fibre content, around 3g per 100g serving. Fibre helps keep you feeling fuller for longer and can therefore help you manage your weight.
5. Better digestion
Fibre is also essential for a healthy digestive system; it helps keep you ‘regular’ and slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream following a meal. However, most people only get about half of the recommended intake of fibre (15g, whereas it should be 25-30g), so adding some butternut squash to your diet may provide a much-needed boost.
Butternut squash is great for the 3 W’s: your wellbeing, your waistline and your wallet; a typical squash only costs around £1-£1.50 and, trust me, it goes a long way. It can be roasted and baked, made into noodles and lasagne sheets and blended, mashed or cubed. Why not pop one in your weekly shop this week and experience the Top 5 Health Benefits of Squash for yourself? Let us know how you like yours and your favourite butternut squash recipes below or @KeepfitKingdom !