Squashing Out Disease

November 3, 2015

By Anna Varriano

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When we eat according to Mother Nature’s plan, we get just what we need at the right time of year.  For example, in fall, we are blessed with a bountiful variety of winter squashes. While they are harvested in the fall, these gorgeous vegetables keep well through the winter, hence their name.

squashWhen you think of squash, you probably think of their beautiful orangy-yellow flesh. That colour is an indication of the fact that they’re loaded with carotenoids – orange pigments that are strong health-boosting antioxidants which support out immune system.

As we head in to cold-and-flu season, it’s great to know that winter squash is also a great source of cold-and-flu busting nutrients including:

  • Beta-carotene – a precursor to vitamin A, which is critical to immune system health and function
  • Vitamin C – a foundational immune system supporter
  • Manganese – a trace mineral which is needed for proper immune system function. It is also a component of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful substance which helps fight disease-producing free radicals

Squash Out Inflammation

Winter squashes are also a great source of soluble fibre, in the form of pectins. Research has shown that in addition to supporting healthy gut function (including promoting regular bowel movements), pectins offer numerous health benefits, including the ability to:

  • Reduce inflammation and oxidation. Inflammation and oxidation are at the root of virtually every disease process in the body, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that substances found in winter squash are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of numerous cancers, including prostate, colon, breast and lung cancers.
  • Help balance blood sugar. Winter squash is a great source of the B-complex of vitamins (B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate) which play an important role in glucose metabolism.

Out of My Gourd for Winter Squash!

crazy gourd

It’s time to go crazy for winter squash! I love winter squashes of all kinds. I have made mashes (aka squishy-squashy), casseroles, stews, desserts, puddings, cookies, and more with them. If you’ve been avoiding squash because you’re not sure what to do with it, here are a few links to some easy and delicious recipes on my website:

Coconutty Cinnamon Baked Squash
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Sprouted Grain Pasta
Kabocha Squash Oishii-ness
Winter Vegetable Stew

Later this month, I’ll be sharing a delicious Pumpkin Ginger Coconut Soup! Stay tuned.

Finally, here’s a fun resource to help you get to know and love 12 delicious varieties of winter squash.  Not sure where to start? Why not have some fun substituting spaghetti squash for the regular pasta in your favourite spaghetti dish? It’ll be delicious … and if you have kids (even big ones), they’ll love helping you scoop out the stringy squashy spaghetti!

Enjoy!

References:
www.epicurious.com
www.whfoods.com

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