Although you can get a lot of health benefits from playing the racquet sport known as squash, we’re talking about the food of the same name today. Squash, while it looks like a vegetable, is actually identified as a plant. There are also many different types of squash, including pumpkins. The type in particular that we’re focusing on is summer squash, which is the “immature” type harvested in the warmer parts of the year.
Some of the squash that falls into this category include zucchini, but eating any of the summer squash can give you some great health benefits. Whether you eat them raw or cooked, you’ll be getting the same health benefits either way. Let’s take a look at what makes squash such a valuable food and what the nutritional breakdown looks like.
Nutrition of Squash
With the different types of squash that you can get, we wanted to look at the summer squash variety that you can eat raw. There are only around 20 calories in each cup of summer squash, but it still provides plenty of nutrition. There is a small amount of protein and fiber in each serving, but the vitamins are the big benefactor here. You’ll get more than one third of your daily vitamin C recommendation with each cup of squash.
In addition, you’re getting more than 10 percent of your riboflavin and vitamin B6 needs, while also seeing a significant amount of vitamin A, vitamin K, thiamin, niacin and folate. As for the minerals, there isn’t one that really stands out, but you will have 11 percent of your manganese suggestion. Others that come in around five percent are magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and copper. There is also very little fat in squash and no cholesterol to be found.
While squash doesn’t have 100 percent of the important minerals that your body needs in one serving, there is still enough to make a positive difference for your heart. Magnesium, potassium and others play a big role in maintaining heart health by increasing the blood flow in your cardiovascular system. That alone will reduce your chances of heart attacks as your heart won’t be under as much duress.
Because of the lack of cholesterol and almost zero fat, you’re certainly not doing damage to your heart when eating squash. The high vitamin C content also helps, as your body is able to oxidize cholesterol to lower your overall numbers. Finally, adding folate and beta-carotene is another positive that will drastically reduce your chances of stroke or heart disease.
Since the most abundant nutrient that you’ll find in squash is vitamin C, your immune system gets a huge boost thanks to eating squash. Even other minerals such as magnesium also boost your immune system by fighting off free radicals in the body that cause illnesses that are both temporary and chronic. Whether you are looking to avoid getting sick or trying to get over an illness, squash plays a big role.
Not many people consider eating the seeds in a squash, but they should, because of the same disease prevention benefits. It’s been found that squash seeds can help your body fight off parasites and other harmful microbes that can attack the body. It doesn’t stop there, either, as squash helps your body to prevent problems with gout and other inflammatory related illnesses.
With people telling us how much we need to worry about our heart health and other parts of the body, one thing that often gets overlooked is vision health. There are certain foods that can improve your eye health, and squash is certainly among them. Because of the beta-carotene content in squash, your body will produce the vitamin A that you need to enhance your eyes.
Squash also contains lutein that is beneficial, and prevents many diseases down the road. Among the problems that many face are macular degeneration, cataracts and night blindness. All of these can be reduced by eating more squash in your diet. Next time you have an eye appointment, as your optometrist how much squash they’re eating.
Your eyes aren’t the only part of the body that gets a huge benefit from the creating of vitamin A. Your lungs also need as much vitamin A as possible to operate at a high capacity. Studies have shown that eating foods such as squash can help reduce the chances of emphysema, and can even reduce damage that has been done from being exposed to too many toxins such as secondhand smoke.
Many of these harmful toxins can cause lung cancer down the road, which is one of the biggest killers in the world. The beta-carotene found in squash protects you from these deadly toxins that can inhibit cancer growth over time. Because of this, squash is actually a pretty solid food to have around if you plan on getting a lot of cardiovascular exercise to help your lung capacity.
There are very particular health aspects that only women have to worry about, and some of those can be treated with eating more squash. It starts with pregnancy, and squash is a very good food for pregnant women to eat. That’s because squash contains folate that reduces the chances of neural tube defects. Many studies over the past few decades have backed up folate’s benefit.
For those that aren’t pregnant, squash is a great food to treat symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Squash contains a solid amount of manganese that has been shown to reduce symptoms that include cramps and mood swings. While it won’t make everything perfect, anything will help.
Finally, squash can help you to manage diabetes, a disease that has become more common over the years. Squash contains beneficial fiber and B-complex vitamins that allow your body to regulate the amount of glucose and insulin without any of the crashes. You should also be adding other foods to your diet if you are diabetic in addition to squash, but we’ll touch on that in just a moment.
Summing it Up
Squash obviously has a lot of great benefits that we’ve pointed out, but are there any negatives to eating more in your diet? One thing that you have to look out for is the glycemic index value for squash, which is higher than some of the other foods in its family. Problems that could arise from eating too much squash can be cancelled out by eating more protein and fiber at the same time so that your glucose levels can balance out.
There are also certain drugs that squash can interact negatively with in the blood thinner department. You’ll want to make sure you check with your doctor if you’re on blood thinners about which foods you can or can’t eat. As long as you make sure to balance those aspects (and your overall diet in general), squash makes up a great part of your diet. As a bonus, most people fight it to be quite delicious!