The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

Last Wednesday evening, Cancer Services was fortunate enough to have Chef Jeff Bacon, from the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Triad Community Kitchen teach a cooking class on how to cook winter squash for our Body & Soul program. It was an awesome class and I was excited to be able to attend and learn from a real chef!

As a result of this inspiration, I thought winter squash would be a good topic for an article. They seem to be the vegetable that no one knows what to do with!

Here’s Chef Jeff mixing up the butternut squash before baking! It’s proof that he’s a pro. :)

Chef Jeff.jpg

Winter squash

Though all varieties of squash are good nutrition choices, winter varieties tend to be more nutrient-dense. They generally contain much more beta-carotene and more of several B vitamins than summer squash.

Winter squash come in many sizes and shapes, and include:

  • Acorn Squash
  • Blue Hokkaido Pumpkin
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cheese Pumpkins
  • Delicata Squash
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Kabocha Squash
  • Red Kuri Pumpkins
  • Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkins
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sugar Pie Pumpkins
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash
  • Turban Squash
  • White Pumpkins

 Winter squash provide significant amounts of:

  • potassium (important for bone health)
  • vitamin B6 (essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems)
  • folate  (helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects)
  • fiber (promotes a healthy gut and protects against colon cancer)
  • carotenoids (protect against cancer and heart disease)
  • very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A)

Other health benefits of winter squash:

  • With only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.
  • Butternut squash’s beta-carotene content is close to that of mangoes and cantaloupe. That’s a benefit in the fight against cancer, heart disease, and cataracts.
  • Beta-carotene may also play a role in reducing lung inflammation and emphysema.

Winter squash is as delicious as it is colorful. These hard, tasty squash can fill up your garden — and your stomach, becoming a healthy addition to your eating plan that you’re sure to enjoy!

So where are the recipes, you ask? Coming up in the next article!! Stay Tuned!
– Julie

Chef Jeff's Winter Squash Recipes, as Promised!
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