Squash is the quintessential fall and winter food. Ironically, we carve pumpkins into all sorts of scary faces, but the truth is, they're more like big sweet orange smiley faces for your whole body. Aw. While acorn and butternut are the other common winter squash, lesser-known spaghetti, hubbards and turbans are tasty and healthy too.
Did you know that squash is a superfood? It's a gourd full of goodness, make that six:
1. Prepare your achy joints for winter by boosting up on the anti inflammatory properties found in acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash. It won't cure your arthritis, but the antioxidants can help alleviate some of the symptoms.
2. A serving of butternut squash has thirty-five percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks. And if you're filling up on healthy, tasty squash, you decrease the amount of room available in your tummy for accidentally having a Big Mac attack instead.
3. There are lots of fun things to do indoors during winter besides baking pumpkin pies. If you are pregnant, or planning on becoming pregnant, eating folate rich foods such as that dreamy pumpkin pie can help prevent serious birth defects.
4. You probably already know this, but just in case, winter is so not your skin's BFF (she kind of hates you). The cold air outside mixing with the heat inside causes dry, itchy skin, dandruff and eczema. Lucky for you, bright winter squash colors means they're loaded with large amounts of beta-carotene, a super skin food. Squash are also a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which improve skin as well. You can make a great tonifying winter facemask with your pumpkin and squash innards too!
5. Cancer can't grow if it can't oxidize. That's why the big deal about antioxidant rich foods is well supported by lots of scientific research. Beta-carotene found in squash is especially important in preventing colon cancer, which is the perfect segue to my favorite subject….
6. Fiber is the difference between pumpkin and PumpKing. The creamy texture of pumpkin and other squash may appear to be roughage free, but a ½ cup serving has over 3 grams of fiber! Regular, healthy bowel movements improve your skin, help eliminate toxins and inflammation, and are especially important if that little bump on your belly is not a pumpkin, but a little 'punkin' on the way.
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Photo: D Yogi courtesy of Creative Commons