In October most people reach for the pumpkins, to carve, or to bake. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and squash risotto are all favorites at this time of year. Pumpkins and other vegetables from the squash family are packed full of nutrients, so read on to find out why you should be cooking with squash this Fall.
The Nutritional Benefits of Squash:
- Vitamins and Minerals. Pumpkins are full of vitamin C, which helps your body to fight free radicals, promoting collagen production and boosting your immune system. High levels of vitamin C can also help protect against some cancers. Also a rich source of Vitamin A, eating the flesh and seeds of pumpkins can promote eye health and boost your immune system.
- Squash are packed with Potassium, Zinc and Magnesium. A potassium-rich diet can prevent cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, while magnesium and zinc help to promote healthy teeth and bones, particularly in those at risk of developing osteoporosis. Zinc also boosts the immune system.
- Fiber. Whilst pumpkin flesh is low in calories it is packed with dietary fiber, helping to keep the body’s digestive system healthy, regulating bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and blood sugar.
- Carotenoids. Pumpkins get their vibrant orange color from the high levels of carotenoids they contain. These carotenoids help to fight free radicals and can prevent premature aging, cardiovascular diseases and help protect the eyes from free radicals and the formation of cataracts.
- Protein. Pumpkin seeds are packed full of protein. The oil they contain is high in plant based fatty acids (phytosterols), which have the same chemical make-up as cholesterol and can replace bad cholesterol in the body, reducing normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Essential Fatty Acids. Pumpkin seeds also contain an abundance of essential fatty acids. They help to protect against a range of diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, high blood pressure and cognitive disorders, whilst improving brain function and promoting healthy skin.
Health Benefits of Squash:
Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds, being rich in a range of vitamins and minerals, provide a range of health benefits:
- Anti-Inflammatory. The flesh and seeds have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. Eating a member of the squash family regularly can help to protect against joint inflammation and arthritis.
- Healthy skin. The zinc and vitamins A, C and E can promote healthy skin. Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds a day can prevent wrinkles, keeping your skin nourished, hydrated and glowing.
- Prostate Cancer. The phytosterols present in pumpkins and squash can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer by reducing the size of the prostate and encouraging the release of chemicals that prevent testosterone from developing into dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that can cause the prostate glands to enlarge.
- Kidney Stones. Eating 5-10 grams of pumpkin seeds a day can stimulate the kidneys, helping them to function properly and preventing residue remaining in the kidneys from forming stones.
- Immune-boosting. It is in the Fall that the colds and flu start creeping up on you. High levels of immune-boosting vitamins, zinc and magnesium can help you to stay healthy this Fall and Winter.
With so many amazing benefits of Pumpkins and their relatives in the squash family, try not to throw away seeds and pulp, but use them in baking and cooking so that you really can squash in the health benefits.
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