Butternut Squash- Health & Nutritional Facts

Dr. Purushothaman
April 28, 2024

Butternut squash, one of the most loved winter vegetables is a nutritional vegetable that mostly grows in warm climatic conditions. It is usually cultivated in South America and Central America. The edible parts of the Butternut squash plant are its fruits, seeds, and even flowers. It comes under the family of pumpkins but has the shape of a giant pear with skin that is just like that of pumpkins- golden yellow in shade.

This is a very common winter squash vegetable and is a monoecious plant, that is male flowers and female flowers are found in the same plant. Pollination happens with the help of honey bees and after pollination.

The vegetable is large and elongated with a thick neck similar to that of a pear. The base is broader. There are different varieties of butternut squash and some varieties weigh around 15 kg.

The flesh of this vegetable is golden yellow and at the centre, there is a network of fibres where the edible seeds are found. The seeds have similarities to that of pumpkin seeds. The seeds are extremely nutritious. It contains around 40 per cent of oil and 30 percentage of protein.

Butternut Squash health benefits

  • Butternut Squash has a lot of important polyphenolic antioxidants as well as vitamins. Like most vegetables, it is low in calories and does not have any kind of saturated fats or cholesterol. Butternut squash is a highly recommended vegetable by most dieticians, as it is rich in phytonutrients and fibre, which helps in controlling cholesterol and reduces weight gain.
  • Vitamin A is found in abundance in this vegetable, more than in pumpkins. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps in maintaining a good quality of the skin and also of the mucosa.
  • Consuming Butternut squash helps in healthy eyesight, as it is full of vitamin A. moreover, this antioxidant helps to protect the human body from lung cancer as well as from oral cavity cancer.
  • Flavanoid compounds such as A and B carotenes, lutein and cryptoxanthin-B are found in this vegetable. These help in converting Vitamin A in the body and help in carrying out the functions in a proper manner.
  • Butternut squash has a rich amount of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, folates, niacin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, folates and thiamin.
  • It contains the same minerals as that of pumpkin. Minerals found in abundance in this vegetable are iron, zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.
  • The seeds of this vegetable contain a good amount of dietary fibre and also monounsaturated fatty acids that are extremely good for a healthy heart. It also has a good amount of minerals, proteins and vitamins that are extremely beneficial to health.
  • Butternut squash seeds contain tryptophan and amino acids that help in maintaining a good healthy body. It is also good for brain health.

Selecting and storing Butternut Squash

Since it is a winter squash vegetable, Butternut squash is found in markets of the US right from September to December. Normally it is imported from the countries of South America and is easily available all through the year.

It is good to buy fresh uncut ones. Never choose cut ones. They should be heavy and should have a woody sound while tapping on its body. Fresh butternut squash always has a firm stem attached to it. Never pick those with bruises, cuts, wrinkles or spots. The surface should always be clean and the colour should be bright.

It can be stored at cool ventilated room temperature. If it is cut into sections, wrap it in a plastic cling film and store it in a plastic bag for storing for a few days.

Preparing the vegetable

Wash the vegetable thoroughly and peel off the skin. Use the flesh for soups, casseroles, pies, bread, muffins, custards or pancakes. You can roast the seeds and consume them as a healthy snack any time of the day. Squash flowers can be added to vegetable soups. This is a very healthy and safe vegetable that gives a lot of benefits to pregnant women and nursing moms. Before using it make it a point to cook it properly.


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