08 July, 2011
Butternut squash is a type of winter squash. As a gourd, winter squash has a tough rind, which allows for storage during the winter months. Storing and preparing butternut squash prolongs the vegetable's quality, ensuring it tastes as sweet and buttery as when you purchased or picked it. Butternut squash contains many different nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber.
Each cup of cubed butternut squash provides approximately 60 calories, 16 g of carbohydrates and 3 g of fiber. It also supplies almost 300 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, 50 percent of vitamin C, 7 percent of calcium and 5 percent of iron.
Beta carotene imparts the orange-yellow color of butternut squash. In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health. Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, also is important in maintaining healthy mucous membranes and other soft tissues, and it plays a role in promoting healthy skin.
Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamin C, which aids in wound healing and is important for gum health. Growth and repair of tissues depends on vitamin C. Cartilage, scar tissue, ligaments and blood vessels depend on vitamin C for development. Another function of vitamin C is increasing the body's absorption of iron.
The potassium in butternut squash helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Potassium is a mineral that also promotes normal body growth and protein synthesis for muscle development. Due to potassium's involvement in fluid balance and cellular electrical functions, it is considered an electrolyte. As a result, adequate intake of potassium is necessary for cellular function.
Butternut squash is a sensible source of fiber, which can improve cholesterol levels while also keeping you regular. Other benefits of fiber include improving digestion, reducing constipation. Fiber also increases satiety, or the feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management.
- butternut squash image by Joy Fera from Fotolia.com