Fall is the harvest time for butternut squash and a perfect time to give this inexpensive, versatile, low calorie veggie a try. Not only is this tasty squash easy to prepare, it is packed full of health benefits that can give you all-day energy, put you in a happier mood, help keep your heart healthy, prevent colds and more.
Butternut squash is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which helps you keep going and going and going. One of the things omega-3s do for the body is to boost the body’s ability to convert stored fat into energy, keeping the energy level high throughout the day.
The low calorie, high-energy producing food enables you to burn more calories and loose weight, and the high fiber content helps keep you feeling fuller longer so you eat less.
Sweet flavored butternut squash contains tryptophan, an amino acid which the body quickly converts into serotonin. Serotonin is the feel-good chemical naturally produced by the body that also hinders the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Increased serotonin and decreased cortisol equals a happier mood.
Rich in folate, fiber and vitamins, butternut squash works to keep the heart healthy by reducing the amount of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the bloodstream with it’s soluble fiber content. The folate and vitamins A, B6, C and E work to improve overall heart health.
Eating one-half cup of this fall vegetable can help prevent winter colds by strengthening the immune system. Butternut squash is packed with beta-carotene, a phytonutrient that neutralizes free-radicals and stimulates the production of infection-fighting T cells. The vitamin A in the squash is necessary for a strong immune system and cold prevention as well.
Potassium and Calcium
With more potassium content than a banana, butternut squash will help to balance the body’s fluid and mineral stores. And for the people who are lactose intolerant or just don’t like the flavor of dairy products, this sweet squash is a good source of calcium that will help build and maintain strong bones.
Anything a pumpkin or sweet potato can do, a butternut squash can do. For quick, low calorie cooking, slice the squash in half length-wise, sprinkle cut side with cinnamon and a sugar, then place cut-side up on a baking pan and bake for 30 minutes (until tender) at 350 degrees. Scoop out and eat as-is, or drizzle with butter.