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Facts on the Health Benefits of Squash

By Contributor

Winter Squash Improves Lung Health

Researchers have found that a vitamin A deficiency, caused by a carcinogen in cigarette smoke, can contribute or lead to the debilitating disease of emphysema. Winter squash, as well as sweet potatoes, contain high levels of vitamin A that may help protect against emphysema. Also, there is a correlation between eating foods high in the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, and decreased incidence of lung cancer. These findings may explain why some smokers don't get lung cancer while others suffer from lung problems and die of cancer. While quitting smoking is ideal, a diet rich in vitamin A and beta-cryptoxanthin may protect lung health if a person unable to quit or is still exposed to cigarette smoke.

Folate in Winter Squash Protects Against Birth Defects

Winter squash contains folate, which has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects and other birth defects when taken by women before and during pregnancy. A cup of winter squash contains 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folate. Folate also works to prevent heart attacks by working against elements that break down blood vessel structures in your body. There is also a correlation between folate intake and reduced incidences of colon cancer.

Summer Squash Promotes Caridovascular Health

Nutrients in summer squash, including vitamins A and C, maganese and magnesium, work together in your body to help protect against some forms of heart disease. Magnesium is indicated as a helpful agent in the prevention of strokes and works with potassium to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. The folate in squash also protects against heart attacks by helping to neutralize dangerous levels of harmful homocysteine in the body. A healthy intake of fiber, present in squash, is associated with lower rates heart disease.

Eating Squash Helps Fight Diseases

Summer squash is a good food for those suffering from arthritis in either form. Its antioxidants help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of asthma in addition to arthritis. Summer squash contains copper, which may be useful for lessoning the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Fiber, present in squash, protects from colon cancer by working to rid the body of harmful substances.

Choose From Many Excellent Varieties of Squash

Butternut, turban, hubbard and acorn are all winter squashes, along with the familiar pumpkin. They keep well in a cool dry storage spot, making them an ideal food to store over the winter months. There are a myriad of ways to prepare winter squashes, with baked, boiled and pies the most common. Summer squash varieties include pattypan, yellow squash and zucchini. They are related to cucumbers and melons, and the seeds are also edible, as is the skin. Zucchini is often prepared in baked goods, crookneck yellow squash is delicious steamed with butter and pattypan is great steamed or baked.

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