Winter and summer squash are cousins that are part of the same large family, the Cucurbitaceae family. One interesting note is that pumpkins are grown in many countries, and pumpkin varieties can be found in both the winter squash category and the summer squash category. Let’s talk about both winter and summer squash, including the health benefits.
Winter squash generally have a hard shell that is difficult to cut, which makes it ideal for longer storage than softer summer squash. They are mildly sweet, with flesh that is slightly grainy, and a centre cavity that contains seeds. Winter squash:
- includes many varieties, such as: acorn, butternut, buttercup, hubbard, delicata, spagetti, banana, boston marrow, turban, kabocha and winter crookneck.
- are high in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin)
- contain seeds that are high in the same type of healthy oils found in olive oil. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein.
- have a great nutritional profile: contain Vitamins A, C, K, B complex (B1, B3, B6, folate and pantothenic acid), potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, tryptophan, fiber and omega 3 fats. The B vitamins help the immune system, the nervous system and the heart; vitamins A and C help neutralize free radicals and help the eyes.
- are beneficial for heart health, fighting cancer and fighting inflammation due to the combination of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids.
- help regulate blood sugar, mainly due to the B complex vitamins
Summer squash have a very similar nutrition profile to winter squash. Summer squash generally has a softer exterior and the seeds are not necessarily in a cavity in the centre. Summer squash:
- includes varieties of zucchini, yellow crookneck, scallop squash and cushaw squash
- contains antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, B (folate), potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and fiber.
- are beneficial for the heart health, for fighting inflammation, and for colon health
- have a high antioxidant level that has been known to help reduce the effects of asthma and arthritis, and fight free radicals that cause cell damage, premature aging and cancer
- are beneficial for bone health, due to the Vitamin C and manganese
- Here is a recipe from the World’s Healthiest Foods: 5 Minute Healthy Sautéed Summer Squash
Summer and winter squash are generally inexpensive, readily available and provide fabulous nutrition year round. They can also be quick to cook, making them very convenient when schedules are tight. Summer squash, particularly zucchini, are great when eaten raw along with other raw veggies or can be tossed into a salad. Both categories of squash provide good carbohydrates and fiber that can help the body lose weight naturally, or maintain optimal weight.
Are you interested in learning more about foods that are packed with nutrition, build the immune system and help build energy? Are you wanting to know about other foods that are great for helping with natural weight loss? Contact me, and let’s talk!
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