Today’s guest article is by Claire Siegel, resident RD at one of my favorite grab and go hubs in Chicago, Snap Kitchen! Claire is dishing on all the beauty benefits of one of my favorite fall veggies, butternut squash. If this doesn’t get you in the mood for fall, I don’t know what will!
Cooling temperatures signal the highly-anticipated return of knee high boots, chunky knit sweaters, and infinity scarves. But summer’s transition into fall is the catalyst for far more than new fashion choices. Eating with the seasons allows you to get the most out of your ingredients in terms of both flavor and nutrient density. When fresh fruits and veggies are allowed to ripen naturally and are harvested at the peak of their season, they can be consumed closer to their harvest date. This means that you’ll get more bang for your buck out of your produce in terms of certain nutrients, like antioxidants, that degrade over time. Pretty smart move, right?
At Snap Kitchen, we certainly think so. And out of all of fall’s bounties—crisp apples, juicy pears, and hearty root vegetables, butternut squash is our favorite thanks to its slightly nutty, sweet flavor and its noteworthy nutrition:
6 Wonderful Health Benefits of Butternut Squash
- Carotenoids: All it takes is one look at the butternut’s bright orange flesh to know that it’s full of carotenoid pigments. Butternut is particularly high in beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer and promote eye health thanks to its antioxidant function.
- Vitamin C: A cup of butternut squash provides nearly half of the vitamin C you need each day. This nutrient works as an antioxidant to protect your body against free radical damage. Plus, it boosts your body’s collagen production for smooth, glowing, youthful skin. We’ll take it!
- Potassium: This electrolyte works in conjunction with sodium to regulate your heart & nervous system function.
- Vitamin B6: This important vitamin is required for the production of neurotransmitters, which are the messengers of the brain & nervous system.
- Fiber: Our humble butternut is one of the top 25 fiber rich foods! Fiber, as we all well know by now, is important for digestive health and supporting a diverse microbiome. It also supports heart health by improving cholesterol metabolism.
- Pectins: The carbohydrate content of this starchy vegetable is, in part, made up of specially structured polysaccharides called pectins. The presence of these pectins, along with other compounds like cucurbitacins and omega-3 fatty acids, make butternut squash an inflammation fighter.
Needless to say, the butternut bears many merits… But the peeling, cutting, and prepping that it entails makes it one of the more intimidating veggies to approach at home. At Snap Kitchen, we’ve incorporated it across our fall-inspired breakfast, lunch, dinner, and side dishes. All you have to do is heat when hungry!
Photo courtesy of Snap Kitchen