Move over zucchini, there’s a new seasonal favorite in my pantry… butternut squash! Like all members of the gourd family (which includes pumpkin, melon, and cucumber), butternut squash is technically a fruit because it contains seeds. It also compliments sweet dishes just as well as savory, so it can be a wonderfully versatile addition to winter kitchen staples.
Butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. Squash’s tangerine hue, however, indicates butternut’s most noteworthy health perk. The color signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, the gourd boasts very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration. What’s more, with only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C. As if this weren’t enough, butternut squash also has an anti-inflammatory effect because of its high antioxidant content.
Incorporating more of this hearty winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Try this Butternut Squash Soup to integrate more of this heart-healthy fruit today!