It’s no secret that vegetables are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, and squash is no exception. Squash is a broad term and encompasses a wide variety of gourd-like veggies, including spaghetti squash, summer squash, winter squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and more. Squash is easy enough to eat by itself or incorporate into a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, omelettes, and pasta.
Health Benefits of Squash
This vegetable is full of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, E, B6, folate, niacin, and thiamine, as well as phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese and iron. Continue reading to learn about just a handful of the ways that squash can improve your health.
1. Immune System Support
Because of its high content of both vitamin C and magnesium, as well as many other antioxidants, squash is very helpful in supporting your immune system and strengthening it against viruses and bugs. The vitamins and minerals in squash also help neutralize free radicals, which are associated with premature aging, cancer, heart disease, and more. Squash also contains high amounts of vitamin A, which provides an extra boost to your body’s immune system.
2. Diabetes Management
The B vitamins found in squash help regulate the way your body metabolizes sugar, making it an excellent ally for those that are managing diabetes or even trying to prevent diabetes. Some types of squash even contain a fiber called pectin; pectin is an essential ingredient in regulating blood sugar throughout the body.
Thanks to carotenoids, omega-3 acids, and specific polysaccharides found in squash, this veggie is excellent for addressing inflammation throughout the body. Recent studies have specifically linked squash to a reduction of inflammation in the digestive tract and throughout the cardiovascular system.
4. Lung Health
There aren’t too many foods out there that are specifically great for the health of your lungs, so when you find them, be sure to take advantage of them! Squash is full of vitamin A, which is a key factor in reducing emphysema. The carotenoids in squash have also been suggested to help prevent lung cancer.
Especially if you work somewhere where second-hand smoke is an issue, or if you are a smoker yourself, be sure to incorporate squash into your diet as much as possible. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of squash have also been linked to a reduction in asthmatic symptoms.
5. Cardiovascular Health
The potassium found in squash is responsible for relaxing blood vessels and arteries, therefore increasing blood flow throughout the body while reducing the pressure on the heart. The pectin in squash is very productive at removing cholesterol off the walls of arteries, while folate is responsible for reducing harmful homocysteine levels in the body.
6. Eye Health
Especially as we age, it is very important to be proactive about the health of our eyes. Thanks to the vitamin A and beta-carotene found in squash (and high amount of each, at that), squash helps your body maintain good eye health. High levels of beta-carotene have even been linked to a reduction in macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.
7. Bone Health
Zinc, calcium, and manganese are just some of the bone-friendly vitamins and minerals that can be found in squash. These elements can help your bones maintain their density and strength, preventing breaks and fractures and even osteoporosis.
8. Beautiful Skin and Hair
Again, the vitamin A found in squash is mainly responsible for this benefit. Because one serving of most types of squash contain over 400% of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, it is an excellent tool to address hair and skin health. Vitamin A, in addition to beta-carotene, maintain a healthy and glowing complexion. The vitamin C in squash also helps strengthen the structure of hair and skin cells thanks to its role in collagen production.
The only caveat to squash’s many advantages is that those with hypotension (low blood pressure) should avoid eating too much of it, since the veggies is so effective in reducing blood pressure. Otherwise, eat as many type, sizes, and colors of this gourd as you would like. Squash is available nearly year-round.
If you have the room, you can also grow various types of squash in your own garden, making it that much easier to incorporate the veggie into your diet regularly. Enjoy!