What to do with Squash

    Squash nutrition facts

    Butternut squash is the most popular vegetable among winter squash varieties.?Butternuts are annual long trailing vines. This squash is usually cultivated under warmer climates of South and Central American regions for their edible fruits, flowers, as well as seeds.
    Botanically, the vegetable belongs in the Cucurbitaceae family of field pumpkins; probably originated in the Central American region. Oftentimes, butternut may be identified as a large pear-shaped, golden-yellow pumpkin instead of squash in the markets.
    Scientific name: Cucurbita morschata.
    The butternut plant is monoecious as in pumpkins, and features distinct male and female flowers that require honeybees for effective fruiting. Butternut, in-fact, is the most common among winter-squash vegetables.
    Externally, butternut is a large-sized fruit featuring upper, long, thick neck attached to pear-shaped base. Its external surface?has smooth, ribbed skin. Even so, the fruit varies widely in its shape and size; with individual fruit may weigh up to 15 kg. Interiorly, its flesh is golden-yellow to orange in color. Cross-section of lower bulb part features central hollow cavity containing mesh-like mucilaginous fibers interspersed with large, flat, elliptical seeds similar to that of Pepita (pumpkin seeds). The fruit's unique golden-yellow color comes from yellow-orange phenolic pigments in their skin and pulp.
    Butternut squash seeds are eaten as nutritious snack food since they contain 35-40% oil and 30% protein. In Argentina, it is also used to feed livestock.


    Health benefits of Butternut squash

    • Butternut squash compose of many vital poly-phenolic anti-oxidants and vitamins. As in other Cucurbitaceae members, butternut too has very low calories; 100 g?provides just 45 calories. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, is rich source of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients. Squash is one of the common vegetables that often recommended by dieticians in the cholesterol controlling and weight-reduction programs.

    • It has more vitamin A than that of in pumpkin. At 10630 IU per 100 g, it is perhaps the single vegetable source in the Cucurbitaceae family with the highest levels of vitamin-A, constituting about 354% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for optimum eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protected against lung and oral cavity cancers.

    • Furthermore, butternut squash has plenty of?natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds like α and ?-carotenes, cryptoxanthin-?, and lutein. These compounds convert?to vitamin A inside the body and deliver same protective functions of vitamin A on the body.

    • It is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.

    • It has similar mineral profile as that in pumpkin, containing adequate levels of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

    • Butternut squash seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that benefit for heart health. In addition, they are rich in protein, minerals, and numerous health-benefiting vitamins. The seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid, tryptophan. Tryptophan converts to health benefiting GABA neuro-chemical in the brain.

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