Health Benefits of Winter Squash

Posted by Fruit Of Spirit on

Health Benefits of Winter Squash

What's comfier than a warm bowl of squash soup in winter? While many of you are familiar with its warm, mouth-watering taste, not many of you would know about the incredible health benefits it has – for example, it is known to control blood sugar levels and therefore is incredible for people with diabetes type 2. To find out more about the health benefits of winter squash, keep reading!

The name Winter Squash might be misleading for people who don’t know how it originated at first. To make things clear, winter squash is not harvested in winter. Rather it has a thicker, more developed skin that increases its shelf life. As it can be stored more than its cousin species, like the summer squashes, it can be consumed even in the winter season, hence the name Winter Squash. 

How Can Winter Squash Benefit You?

Consuming this vegetable can help in boosting your daily nutrient intake – in nearly every essential nutrient category. When talking about macronutrients, you get to have about one-fourth of the daily recommended dietary fiber intake through a one-cup serving. Moreover, you also get to have about 10 percent of the Daily Value of essential fatty acids and omega-three fatty acids through a cup serving. 

Nutrition Info 

205 grams or 1 cup cooked winter squash 

76 calories

Vitamin A

59 percent 

Vitamin C

26 percent 

Fiber 

21 percent 

Vitamin B6

19 percent 

Copper 

19 percent 

Manganese

17 percent 

Vitamin Content 

When talking about vitamins, winter squashes are especially rich in vitamin B complexes. Be it Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, or Vitamin B9 (known as folate), the load for nutrients is considerably high. Moreover, you get to have more vitamin C and vitamin A which is great for better skin, nails, and hair. Vitamin K is also specifically high when it comes to winter squashes. 

Musky Winter Squashes

Another thing that makes winter squashes a great deal is its vitamin E content. As it is significantly high in the flesh of the vegetable, one should not ignore the seeds of the vegetable if one is looking out for more vitamin E content. Gamma tocopherols are some special agents of the vitamin E group that help in a lot of metabolic reactions of the body and help fight inflammation. If you want to have these vitamins in your dietary intake, make sure to scoop out the seeds from the winter squash and roast them separately before you peel the vegetable and make it to boil. An oven temperature of 160 to 170 Fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes is sufficient for this purpose. 

Mineral Content 

Winter squash comes with a lot of minerals that play an integral role in the maintenance of the health of an individual. The vegetable has high rankings among the categories of foods that are specifically rich in copper and manganese content, and there are also considerable amounts of potassium and magnesium in the food. However, it is also specifically rich in other minerals as well, including calcium, iron, and zinc. 

When it comes to phytonutrients, winter squash is specifically known for its high amounts of carotenoids. That is why one can see a high Vitamin A content in the vegetable. Alpha-carotene and beta carotene are found massively in winter squashes and are greater in these squashes than other squashes. Other carotenoids included in the winter squashes include phytofluene, flavoxanthin, auroxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein xanthin, neurosporene, violaxanthin, zeaxanthin, and the list goes on. 

Scientific evidence has also shown the vegetable to be specifically rich in antioxidants, namely lignans that are phenols. In about 100 grams of winter squash, there are about 25 to 80 grams of phenols. 

When we talk about all these nutrients together – macros, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants – what you get is a complete vegetable that is ideal for a lot of reasons. Some of these reasons are defined below:

Blood Glucose Control and Winter Squash 

Over the past years, a lot of scientific studies have overlapped that point towards the nutritional significance of squashes, especially the impact of the winter squashes on the blood glucose levels. Winter squashes are now recognized among the starchy vegetable with a low to a medium Glycemic Index or GI. The actual difference in the low and medium GI depends on the cut point of 55 typically used for differentiating low and medium GI. We have seen different studies on the winter squash as it shows GI values between 55 to 65, as well as scientific studies decipher that low-value GI range between 50 to 55.

Winter Squash

 A lot of factors determine the impact of the GI value for winter squash that includes the season of harvest, storing length, method of preparation, and the cooking method. When there are different factors involved, it becomes clear that the winter squash ranks lower on the scale when compared to other vegetables. The lower GI values will make the winter squash a vegetable significantly easy on the blood sugar levels after eating. 

Pectin Content and Digestive System

A lot of studies have come up that define the winter squashes to be helpful in the slow release of sugar in the digestive tract after consumption. Scientists refer to the events as the PostPrandial Glycemic Response. A lot of scientists are not 100 percent sure about the reason behind this benefit. However, one thing might be involved in it, and that is the pectin content of the vegetable. 

Pectin is a great fiber component built around different molecules known as galacturonic. These are the polysaccharide look-alikes that play a role in making the cell wall structure in different plants. The key ingredients in the pectin are xylogalacturonan and homogalacturonan, and others. Studies on pectin have shown it to comprise anti-diabetic properties that help lower the sugar release from our food into the digestive system after a meal. The study indicates that the pectin in the vegetable has amazing blood glucose benefits from the vegetable. 

Harvest, Winter, Squash, Vegetable

This, in return, also helps in regulating the digestive tract motility. Vitamin B and vitamin K are in rich amounts along with the pectin content, all that aid in the regulation of a healthy gut system for the body. Moreover, they play an important part in the carbohydrate metabolism of the body that helps in improving blood sugar benefits for a reason. 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Too often, we humans come in contact with toxic substances and stress-inducing factors that increase the inflammation in our bodies. This can make way for many chronic conditions to develop. Some of these chronic conditions include cancer, diabetes, peptic ulcer disease, and others. To avoid such conditions, it is essential to have a good intake of antioxidants in the body. Now, we have a lot of options for getting such nutrients, and luckily, winter squashes that are quite commonly found in many areas, are abundant in it. 

There are different factors that suggest that the vegetable comes with a lot of antioxidant benefits. This is well-supported by a demand that there are high amounts of vitamin C, Vitamin E, and carotenoids present in the vegetable. Moreover, the seeds are rich in vitamin E content that give the vegetable added antioxidant properties. Another factor will be the addition of phenol along with copper and manganese, all of which account for amazing roles in the antioxidant process in the body. We see different studies for demonstrating these benefits. 

Improved Cardiac Health

Pectin polysaccharides also play a role in decreasing cholesterol levels in the body, which resultantly benefit for cardiac health. There is polysaccharide content that is known to increase food satisfaction after the consumption of food. This also aids in increasing cardiac health as the food is readily digested, and there is no such worry about getting fat buildup in the body. There will be more studies in the future that will decipher the intake of the vegetable to be beneficial in this regard. 

Side Effects and Intake Recommendation

Except for Toxic Squash Syndrome, there is no such side effect that can be induced by taking this vegetable. This poisoning is induced in rare cases due to the presence of an element in the vegetable. A case report where two French women complained of gastric discomfort and hair loss after consuming an affected vegetable.

 It is safe to consume about a cup of cooked vegetables a day. However, it is recommended you combine different vegetables in the yellow group of vegetables, so you get more nutrient diversity. Normally, people cook the vegetable into a soup to be consumed in the winter season. However, you can dice it and add it to different stews and other cooked dishes. 

Final Words

From glucose regulation to gut motility, and from antioxidant action to improved cardiac health, winter squash is ideal for consumption for a lot of reasons. We hope the article gave you some insight on certain elements of the vegetable that make it among the top nutritious foods to be on the planet.  

References

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