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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Therapeutic Value of Different Foods >>  Vegetables >>  Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Winter squash a member of cucurbitaceous family and relatives to both cucumber and melons has a mild sweet flavor with a fine texture. It is available at its best form from October to November, however available from August through March. Winter squash is available in different varieties, size, shape and color, but more or less they share the same characteristics. Common varieties of winter squash include Butternut squash, Acorn squash, Hubbard squash, Turban squash and Pumpkins. The long shelf life (up to six months) of winter squash can be attributed to the hard shell that is difficult to pierce keeping its hollow inner cavities safe.

Health and winter squash

  1. Winter squash helps to promote optimal health of an individual. It is found to have anti-cancer properties and juices derived from radish, leeks and pumpkins has the ability to prevent cell mutations, but unlike other root vegetables it is not that potent and also phytonutrient researches related to it are limited.
  2. Winter squash promotes men’s health, extracts from winter squash is often used to minimize symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) a condition common in men (in this condition the exceptionally enlarged prostate gland causes difficulty in urinating and affects the sexual function in men). Winter squash when combined with other phytonutrient-containing foods is helpful to decrease the symptoms of BPH.
  3. Winter squash has a variety of health promoting nutrients, it is especially rich in Vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, niacin, pantothenic acid and fiber.  
  4. Winter squash is rich in beta-cryptoxanthin that promotes lung health. Studies show that people who include vitamin A and cryptoxanthin rich foods in the diet like winter squash, pumpkin, papaya, corn, oranges, tangerines and peaches showed 27 % reduction in the risk of lung cancer.
  5. Beta-carotene in winter squash has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It prevents oxidation of cholesterol in the body and helps to decrease the oxidative stress by scavenging the free radicals from the body. This properties help to manage various disease conditions like diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and asthma.
  6. Folate in winter squash helps in birth defects prevention, heart attack prevention and supports colon health.
Winter squash although has a long shelf life, if not selected properly even a small puncture can promote decay. For delicious winter squash recipes remember the following points.
  1. Wash thoroughly and cut in to two halves, remove the seeds and the fibrous material from the cavity. Depending on the recipe it can be peeled or unpeeled.
  2. It can be cut in to pieces and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days.
  3. The cubes can be steamed with olive oil, ginger, garlic, tamarind and pumpkin seeds for its exceptional flavor.
  4. The cubes can also be added to a vegetable soup.
Submitted on January 16, 2014