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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Super Food of the Week: Health Benefits of Butternut Squash

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Butternut SquashFall is the season of orange super foods—pumpkin, acorn squash, and this week’s super food of the week: butternut squash. This fall veggie is a powerhouse of flavor and nutrients. If this food has not made its way onto your dinner table yet, now is the time to incorporate it into your family meals!  

Butternut squash, which grows on a vine, comes from the gourd family. Low in fat, squash provides an ample dose of dietary fiber. Squash’s tangerine hue indicates its most noteworthy health perk: carotenoids. Beta carotene has been shown to protect against heart disease as well as help as a deterrent against some cancers and macular degeneration. This isn’t the only nutrient or health benefit butternut squash provides.

It’s rich in potassium, folic acid, magnesium, and omega 3’s. Smooth, delicious and nutritious, once your family tries this super food, they’ll never want to go without it again.

How do all the nutrients of butternut squash benefit me?

  • Folic Acid: Essential for pregnant women as it helps with development of the brain and spinal cord of your growing baby. (For more on pregnancy nutrition, check out my new book!)
  • Magnesium: Aids in absorption of calcium, helping to build strong bones and teeth. Excellent for people with osteoporosis and your growing children!
  • Vitamin A: The human body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, which not only helps protect against heart disease, but also helps with vision and may reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
  • Fiber: Addition of fiber to the diet helps enhance the digestive process as well as helping to keep you full longer throughout the day.
  • Potassium: Butternut squash is rich in potassium which helps reduce blood pressure and is also beneficial for heart health and muscle contractions.

How do I choose a butternut squash?

When selecting a butternut squash, keep these tips in mind:

  • smooth skin
  • heavy for its size
  • un-dented
  • still has the stem

How do I store butternut squash?

A whole butternut squash will keep longer than one that is cut, so don’t cut it until you’re ready for it! Store in a cool, dry place until you are ready to cook with it. Once cut, remove the seeds and bake. Don’t want to mess with the whole squash? Get it frozen and use it in a butternut squash soup.

How do I cook butternut squash?

Butternut squash can be included in a variety of meals. It’s delicious alone, but you can put it on top of salads, added into grilled dishes, soups, pasta dishes or even alongside your favorite meats. Check out these 13 top-rated butternut squash recipes from Cooking Light!

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Tags: Cooking Healthy , Healthy Eating , Recipes , Superfood of the Week

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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