Diet and Nutrition

Butternut Squash Health Benefits

Butternut Squash Health Benefits

Key Takeaways

  • Butternut squash is a variety of winter squash and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • People who are taking beta blockers should limit their butternut squash consumption because they have a higher risk of developing hyperkalemia (high potassium).
  • The butternut squash is the healthiest if it’s steamed and the tastiest if it’s baked in an oven.

Butternut squash is a variety of winter squash and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It is usually grown during the summer season and harvested in the fall. It can be stored for several months since it has a very thick exterior with a firm flesh.

In Australia and New Zealand, butternut squash is called as “gramma” or “butternut pumpkin”. It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family under the genus Cucurbita and has six varieties. Cucurbita fruits are known for its rich nutrients. Even though butternut squash is a fruit, it is regarded as a vegetable in most food preparations. 

A young butternut squash has a lemon yellow flesh, but when it matures, its color turns to dark orange with a sweet-tasting flesh. When it comes to its appearance, butternut squash resembles like an acoustic guitar. 

Butternut squash is extremely healthy and tasty. Consuming butternut squash can help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. 

How to cook butternut squash

Cut the butternut squash in half and put it in an oven heated to 160 Celsius. Bake it for a whole hour. After baking, take out the “meat” of the butternut squash with a spoon. You can eat it or use it for pies, mashed butternut squash, or soups. It can also be used in making butternut squash fries. You can eat it with the crust because it is edible and very rich in fiber.

Butternut squash cubes can be added to many dishes. They usually get along with soups, pasta, rice, etc. You can use butternut squash cubes if you bake them in the oven and then add them to other dishes. You can also use it for food decoration. Some people use it as a plate or bowl in serving soups and other side dishes. Mashed butternut squash can be used as a sauce, broth, or cream soup. 

Butternut squash is also ideal for cakes and pies because it is low in sugar, but are very delicious. It also goes well with cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup.

Butternut squash health benefits

1) Rich in vitamins

Butternut squash is very rich in vitamin A. Just one cup of this delicious squash contains over 145 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for the hair and skin. 

It also contains vitamin B6 and vitamin C.

2) Promotes good eyesight

Butternut squash is also very rich in alpha and beta-carotene, which are very important for good eyesight and overall eye health. Beta-carotene is responsible for its orange color, and can also be found in pumpkin, cantaloupe, papaya, carrots, and apricots.

3) Contains omega-3 fatty acids

Butternut squash contains low fat but contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are rarely found in vegetables. 

4) High in fiber

Because it contains high levels of dietary fiber, it helps in digestion, decreases inflammation, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Moreover, it helps normalize cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

5) Boosts immunity

The butternut squash has an important role in strengthening the immune system because it contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which help reduce inflammation.

6) Anti-cancer

Since butternut squash contains a lot of carotenoids, consuming it can help lower the risk of getting cancer, especially colon cancer.

7) Good for the heart

It has an important role in lowering high blood pressure because it contains a lot of potassium. Certain amounts of potassium in combination with low sodium can help regulate blood pressure levels. Potassium is important because it reduces one's risk of getting a stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

8) Diabetes management

Butternut squash can help people with diabetes. Actually, it is recommended for both types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. People who have diabetes need a lot of fiber in their diet. The daily recommended amount of fiber in a 2,000-calorie diet is 25 grams, and one cup of butternut squash contains about 6 grams of fiber.

9) Anti-asthma

Butternut squash contains a lot of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that can help lower the risk of developing asthma.

Overall, the butternut squash can lower the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Moreover, it can boost one's energy and can help maintain a healthy weight.

Caution when consuming butternut squash

People who are taking beta blockers should limit their butternut squash consumption because they have a higher risk of developing hyperkalemia (high potassium). People who have kidney problems should also pay attention to their butternut squash consumption because the kidneys cannot process high levels of potassium. Such conditions can be fatal when there is hyperkalemia.

7 reasons to eat butternut squash

  1. Better immune system 
  2. Helps manage diabetes 
  3. Anti-asthma 
  4. Anti-cancer
  5. Better digestive system
  6. Normalize blood pressure levels 
  7. Healthier skin and hair 

Butternut squash nutrition facts

Butternut squash is low in calories but has important nutrition values. Because it contains high amounts of vitamins, especially vitamin A and vitamin C, minerals such as potassium, and dietary fiber, it is recommended to be included in your diet. The butternut squash is also a rich source if manganese, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, vitamin E, and thiamine. It also provides large amounts of potassium than bananas and is considered as one of the greatest sources of potassium.

100 grams of butternut squash contain:

  • Calories – 45 Calories or 188 kJ
  • Carbohydrates – 12 g (dietary fiber 2 g and sugars 2.2 g)
  • Fat – 0.1 g (saturated fat 0 g, polyunsaturated fat 0 g, and monounsaturated fat 0 g, 26 mg of total omega-3 fatty acids, and 16 mg of total omega-6 fatty acids)
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Cholesterol – 0g
  • Water – 86.4 g
  • Vitamin A - 10631IU
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.1 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.02 mg
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) – 1.2 mg
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) – 0.4 mg
  • Vitamin B6 – 0.2 mg
  • Vitamin B9 (folate) - 27 μg
  • Choline - 0 mg
  • Vitamin C – 21 mg
  • Vitamin E – 1.44 mg
  • Vitamin K -1.1 μg
  • Calcium – 48 mg
  • Iron - 0.7 mg
  • Magnesium – 34 mg
  • Manganese – 0.202 mg
  • Phosphorus – 33 mg
  • Potassium – 352 mg
  • Sodium – 4 mg
  • Zinc – 0.2 mg
  • Copper – 0.1 mg
  • Selenium – 0.5 μg
  • Fluoride –0 μg
  • Phytosterols –0 mg
  • Ash – 0.8 g

Butternut squash recipes

Watch this video to learn how to make butternut squash macaroni and cheese.

1) Butternut squash cream soup 

  • 1/2 tablespoon of fat (you can use olive oil or butter)
  • 700 to 800 g butternut squash (chopped)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2-3 pcs. pepper
  • 3-4 pcs. carrots (chopped)
  • Celery root (chopped, about the size of a small apple)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little bit of chili powder 
  • 1.5-2.5 liters of water 
  • 2.5-3.5 US fl oz. of cooking cream

Instructions:

  1. Fry the chopped onion using olive oil or butter.
  2. When the onion becomes glassy, add the chopped carrots and celery root, and 1.5-2.5 liters of water (depending on how thick you want your cream soup). Let it boil.
  3. Add chopped peppers and the butternut squash.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. When everything is well cooked, mix it with a blender and then add chili powder (about half a teaspoon).
  6. In the end, when the soup is a little cooler, add the cooking cream.

2) Butternut squash spaghetti

  • 500 g of butternut squash
  • 200 g of thin spaghetti
  • 1 liter of milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Chop the butternut squash into cubes and cook in salty water. When it’s cooked, blend it in a food processor.
  2. Place the mashed butternut squash into a pot and add milk. Heat the mixture and combine it well.
  3. When it starts to boil, add spaghetti and cook on low temperature (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn).
  4. When the spaghetti is cooked, add the butter and sprinkle with cheese. Serve warm.

3) Mashed butternut squash (for babies)

  • 200 g chopped butternut squash (orange and sweet)
  • Water enough to boil the squash

Instructions:

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. Add the chopped butternut squash in the boiling water.
  3. When it softens, blend it and serve.

The butternut squash is the healthiest if it’s steamed and the tastiest if it’s baked in an oven. You can add some apples to the mashed butternut squash to make it even more tasty and healthy.