Food Focus: Squash
It is almost AUTUMN! Squash season, even for us Floridians. Yes, pumpkin spice is down here with the palm trees as well. I'm finally getting used to it and will embrace another year of making sweet, creamy soups using various squashes...and then jumping in the pool afterwards to cool off.
Both summer and winter squash have major benefits nutritionally, but since fall is upon us, let's talk about what is coming into season and why you should be adding them to your weekly shopping list!
Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and even pumpkin are fiber heavyweights. They are low in calories, high in potassium and vitamin A. They include some members of the carotenoid family (lutein and zeaxanthin) that have research backing their protection against things like mucular degeneration and other visions problems.
All carotenoids are known to be pivotal cancer fighters. Plus, the vitamins in these gourds are major immune boosters, which is fantastic because they are harvested during cold and flu season!
Squashes all have a pretty big water content. Why is that important? You can pack a big bang for your caloric buck. They are considered "high-volume foods" which means they give you a nice amount of fiber overall for a lower number of calories. Fuller longer, without the weight gain!
They have also been shown to lower risk of heart disease and are frequently recommended for conditions like diverticulosis because of the fiber needed for digestive disorders.
Have you seen some of these listed as high on the glycemic index? From what I have researched, there are no studies saying someone even on a low-carb high-fat diet should avoid these foods entirely. For all the reasons listed above, eat in moderation during the winter and fall!
What is my favorite way? Slice down the middle, scoop out the seeds and bake with some ghee or coconut oil and cinnamon and sea salt on top. You could also slice up and make fries or cubes to toss on top of leafy greens or protein. There are tons of options and a good Pinterest search can make this a staple in your home! Search for seed recipes as well - don't throw them out.
Sources and Additional Reading:
150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Bowden, Jonny. 2007.