Being treated as vegetable around the world, it is a lesser known fact that butternut squash is actually a fruit. Yes, you read that right. Be it the appearance, taste or the benefits, this fruit is going to surprise you with its high scores in all three areas. Let’s get to know about this high achiever fruit or you may call it a vegetable in your mind. We can assure you; it won’t mind.
What Is It And Where It Came From?
There is so much to it that we can’t wait to tell it all to you. First things first let’s talk about its starry appearance. A type of winter squash butternut squash has a pale orange skin on the outside while on inside it is bright orange is colour. The shape is like an elongated pear and the skin and flesh are quite firm and hard. It belongs to Cucurbitaceae family which makes it a cousin of zucchini and pumpkin; how could it not be good, true right?
Butternut squash is not result of a cross among plants nor is it a newly originated fruit. In fact, it dates back to almost 10,000 years ago and is a native to Central America and Mexico. Even the name has also come from a Native American language word “askutasquash” which in literal words translates to something that is eaten raw or uncooked.
Let’s talk about the taste that has made it popular and rising star of both sweet and savoury recipes around the world since last couple of years. The taste is an amalgamation of mild, sweet and nutty taste. To give you a hint, we can call it a cross between turnip/carrot and a sweet potato (flavour wise). Grill it, roast it, make a soup out of it or stuff it with your favourite ingredients, you are never going to be disappointed.
Nutritional Profile of Butternut Squash
A cup of butternut squash makes one serving of it and that alone is packed with loads of minerals and vitamins. Here, have a look:
- Total Calories: 82
- Proteins: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 22g
- Fibre: 7g
- Vitamin C: 52% of RDI
- Vitamin A: 457% of RDI
- Vitamin E: 13% of RDI
- Vitamin B6: 13% of RDI
- Manganese: 18% of RDI
- Potassium: 17% of RDI
- Magnesium: 15% of RDI
Benefits of Butternut Squash
You must be awe struck by the stunning nutritional profile of this valuable fruit. But we are on a mission to surprise you more. So, it is time to have a look at the benefits of this amazing fruit enlisted below:
1. Decreased Risk of Disease
Butternut squash is rich in antioxidants by nature mainly beta-carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. The antioxidants are responsible for slowing down and preventing cell damage altogether. Moreover, they also reduce inflammation. All of these events result in a decreased risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart and mental disorders. This has been supported by studies as well.
2. Reducing Blood Pressure
A serving of butternut squash contains 500mg of potassium which makes it a potential factor in reducing blood pressure by playing a counteract role against sodium which is high in our diets and responsible for high blood pressure. A medium sized banana contains less potassium than that. Keeping your blood pressure in limits would save you from serious health disorders.
3. Keeping your Digestive System in Check
A single serving of butternut squash contains 7g of fibre/25% of RDI. Fibre is quintessential for a healthy gut. It keeps your bowel movements regular and prevents damage to digestive system just like baobab does.
4. Good for your Eyesight
We often tend to overlook our eyes health where in fact they are the ones that really need care with the continuous exposure to screen times. If you allow butternut squash in your diet it would do the task happily. Butternut squash comes naturally packed with plenty of Vitamin A; a cup literally contains 350% of RDA. It is an open secret that Vitamin A is crucial for healthy eye-sight. Not only this, but it also contains lutein and zeaxanthin which are antioxidants that have a protective role towards the eyes.
5. Gives you Healthy Bones
A fruit strengthening your bones? Well, that’s a new one. But blame it to the high manganese content in this gifted fruit. A serving of butternut squash contains 17% manganese. That’s why it can maintain a healthy bone structure, improve mineral density in the spinal cord as well as amp up the calcium absorption. Don’t forget that vitamin C is also a jewel in the crown of butternut squash and that helps in formation of collagen which in turn plays a role in building bone mass. Wait, there is more to it. This squash is rich in bone friendly minerals like zinc, iron and folate that protect against osteoporosis and bone health.
6. Immunity Booster
As it is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, it is a no-brainer that it helps in boosting immunity to a great deal.
Are there any health risks?
It is always a good idea to check the possible side effects of a food you are thinking of adding to diet. As far as butternut squash is concerned, there are no as such side effects to it but we would like to mention these:
- For those who are on a medication for heart disease, they may consume it in moderation.
- As it is rich in potassium, people having kidney disease should also consume it with care.
You are now fully equipped with butternut squash knowledge and can start trying out the recipes today. It’s a dilemma that we have been gifted a variety of amazing and nutritionally rich fruits like butternut squash by nature but we only stick to a few. As inhabitants of this planet it is our duty to find these fruits and get as much benefits from them as we can!