Just like apples, the types of squash are seemingly limitless — all with their very own distinctive flavors, shapes and textures. But is squash good for you?

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Registered dietitian Amber Sommer, RDN, LD, offers the 411 on the various well being advantages of squash, together with the right way to make them a scrumptious addition to your weight loss plan.

The well being advantages of consuming squash

Contrary to widespread perception, squash is botanically categorised as a fruit, not a vegetable. This is as a result of it grows from flowers and has seeds. But squash brings the most effective of each produce worlds in the case of well being advantages. “They’re all relatively low in carbs, high in fiber and nutrient-dense,” says Sommer.

For instance, winter and summer season squash are low in energy and fats, and each are glorious sources of vitamin C. They additionally include fiber, B nutritional vitamins and essential minerals equivalent to potassium and magnesium. 

Sommer explains how these antioxidants, minerals and nutritional vitamins in squash profit your well being.

Prevents persistent ailments

Squash comprises antioxidants, which stop mobile injury attributable to free radicals. Antioxidants are a dietary jackpot in your physique — no danger and all reward.

“Your body creates free radicals naturally as it converts food into energy or in response to environmental factors like pollution. Free radicals are missing an electron, so they’re constantly looking to steal them from other cells,” explains Sommer.

“Too many free radicals create oxidative stress. Over time, oxidative stress causes cell damage and lays the foundation for disease development. But antioxidants fight free radicals, preventing this damage and staving off chronic ailments like cancer and heart disease.”

Beta-carotene is an antioxidant present in squash. Your physique transforms beta-carotene into the important nutrient vitamin A. Studies have additionally linked beta-carotene to a decrease danger of cancers, together with:

Helps keep bone well being

Squash is wealthy in minerals, together with calcium. Calcium helps construct and keep wholesome bones and tooth. The nutritional vitamins A and C in squash additionally assist preserve your bones wholesome. In truth, a 2017 review of studies linked vitamin A deficiency to an elevated danger of bone fractures.

Keeps blood wholesome

Squash is a good supply of iron. Iron deficiency could cause a number of issues, together with anemia. Getting sufficient iron doesn’t simply assist stop and deal with anemia. “Research also shows that iron has benefits during menstruation, such as reducing fatigue and improving athletic performance,” notes Sommer.

Supports coronary heart well being and performance

Squash comprises magnesium, which is important for greater than 300 processes in your physique. “Magnesium maintains your heart rhythm and helps make DNA. It can also help you stay energized,” says Sommer.

Potassium-rich meals like squash additionally assist your physique operate by supporting your coronary heart and may also help decrease blood strain. “And research has linked the beta-carotene in squash with heart disease prevention,” she provides.

Protects eye well being

Squash is a smorgasbord of powerhouse nutritional vitamins, together with nutritional vitamins A and C. Studies present that vitamin A may also help defend your eyes and performs a task in stopping night blindness and age-related macular degeneration.

In addition to being an immune well being superhero and highly effective antioxidant, vitamin C helps your eyes, too. Like vitamin A, it prevents and slows macular degeneration and may assist stop cataracts.

Keeps pores and skin wholesome

Studies present that vitamin C and beta-carotene are good for pores and skin well being. Vitamin C can also be related with wrinkle prevention and wound healing.

How a lot squash must you eat?

Despite being #teamfruit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lumps squash in with veggies based mostly on their vitamin content material. According to MyPlate, the USDA’s vitamin information for Americans, you need to purpose for 2 to 4 servings of greens every day. Where you fall in that vary is determined by your intercourse, age, exercise stage, top and weight. The USDA considers 1 cup of cubed, sliced or diced winter or summer season squash to be one serving of greens.

“Nutritionally, butternut and acorn squash are arguably the overall MVPs, but it’s by the slimmest, most subjective of margins,” says Sommer. “However, don’t worry about choosing the healthiest squash. Instead, choose the ones that taste best to you and try to eat a variety to get the most benefit from eating squash.”

Try summer season squash uncooked or spiraled into “zoodles” as a wholesome substitution for noodles. They’re additionally yummy sautéed or roasted with olive oil. Winter squash is scrumptious (and sugary candy like a candy potato) when roasted. And each are nice additions to soups and pastas.

Whether you add it to your favourite recipe or eat squash by itself, your physique will thanks.

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