The Health Benefits of Squash
There are many health benefits of consuming both winter and summer varieties of squash. Eating squash is a natural way to make your heart healthier, lower high blood pressure, and ward off cancer.
Squash is considered a vegetable. Different varieties of squash are classified according to their growing seasons. The two main categories of squash are winter squash and summer squash. The many varieties of squash were a staple among early Native American tribes, and the plant originated in the Americas. As more and more Europeans began to settle in the Western Hemisphere and trade increased between North and South America, new types of squash were cross-cultivated. Early settlers also grew their own plots of squash, including founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Squash continues to be grown in many family and commercial gardens to this day, and offers many health benefits for those who consume it.
Nutrients of Squash
Squash is one of the most nutrient-rich vegetables there are. Summer squash often contains much more water than denser varieties of winter squash. For this reason, winter squash is considered to have many more health benefits and is packed with more nutrients. However, summer squash is still very beneficial, if it is cooked appropriately. Squash that is baked or steamed is better able to retain its nutrient rich properties and health benefits. Boiling squash or adding more water than necessary when cooking squash depletes many of these nutrients.
All varieties of squash are rich in carotene. Carotene has been proven to be beneficial at preventing cancer and lung disease. The carotene from squash can also help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. In the summer months, the health benefits of squash include protecting against the damaging effects of sun exposure and preventing dehydration. The juice from summer squash has also been proven to be just as effective as some varieties of winter squash in preventing cell mutations in the protection against cancer.
Since both winter and summer squash varieties are rich in B vitamins, they can also help to reverse many of the damaging effects of stress on the body and further prevent other types of illness. Squash is also a good source of vitamin C, which helps to boost the immune system, prevent colds, and help fight allergies. The rinds of many squash are also a good source of fiber, which aids in proper digestion and is a vital element in preventing many types of disease. It is important if you eat squash to also eat the peel or rind.
Other nutrients found in squash include potassium and niacin. One of the most important beneficial nutrients of squash is one that has only recently been discovered. Squash is known to contain coumarins. Although coumarins are not anticoagulants per se, they interact with other nutrients to work as anticoagulants in the body. This means that squash can potentially have blood thinning effects, which can be beneficial for those with high blood pressure or poor circulation. In addition, this property can provide added protection against heart disease.
Types of Squash
There are many different varieties of squash, all of which provided the numerous health benefits listed here. Winter squash typically includes your darker varieties of squash such as pumpkin, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash. Delicatta squash is also a winter squash, and is also referred to as a sweet potato squash. Summer squash include lighter varieties of squash that come in straight neck or crook neck varieties. Summer squash includes cucumbers, zucchini, and the many varieties of yellow squash. Zucchini is the most popular of all summer squash and is readily available throughout the summer months.