You’ve heard of a butternut squash and may have even used it to decorate your home for fall, but did you know it provides several health benefits? The cream-colored bell-shaped fruit is similar in taste to a sweet potato.
Butternut squash can easily be cooked with or without the skin intact. The squash a great source of vitamins A and C and fiber.
Vitamin A is actually comprised of two groups of substances including retinoids and carotenoids. You’ll find plenty of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin in butternut squash. Alpha- and beta-carotene are converted into retinol to maintain skin and eye health while lutein and zeaxanthin serve an antioxidants to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
Women should get at least 2,333 international units of vitamin A per day, while men should have a daily vitamin A intake of 3,000 international units. You’ll be surprised to know that 1 cup of cubed butternut squash provides all of that and plenty more with 14,882 international units of vitamin A.
The antioxidants in butternut squash help neutralize free radicals that damage healthy cells and cause inflammation. The best way to get these antioxidants is from the vitamin C that can stop free radicals. One cup of cubed butternut squash contains 32 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for men and 39 percent for women. There’s also 13 percent of the daily vitamin E you need and 17 percent of manganese.
The fiber in butternut squash helps regulate your digestive tract and prevent constipation while also helping to lower cholesterol. You’ll get 12 percent of the daily recommended intake from 1 cup of cubed butternut squash for women as 8 percent for men.
The electrolytes – calcium, magnesium and potassium – in butternut squash work to regulate heartbeat, stimulate muscle contractions and relax cardiovascular muscles.
What’s your favorite butternut squash recipe? Here’s ours!
Butternut squash soup recipe
If you’re in search of ways to incorporate butternut squash into your diet, try this soup recipe from Ashley English that yields six to eight servings:
- 2 butternut squashes (5 pounds total)
- 5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 quarts water
- Several grinds of black pepper
1. Preheat over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare squash, cut tips off both ends and then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds.
2. Coat squashes and a medium baking pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast squash for 1 hour.
3. To prepare stock, warm remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Cook for approximately six minutes until onions are limp and soup is fragrant. Add garlic and cook two more minutes.
4. Add water and salt. Stir. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes.
5. Strain stock and return liquid to the stockpot.
6. After squashes are finished roasting, remove them from the oven.
7. Allow them to cool off and scoop cooked flesh out of the peel. Puree the cooked squash in a food processor or mash it by hand.
8. Add cider, heavy cream, thyme, marjoram and squash puree to the stockpot containing the stock. Stir well and heat on low for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, season with pepper and serve warm.